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Too many energy firms struggling to deliver good customer service, says Citizens Advice

25 Mehefin 2019

Ten energy companies are failing to achieve even half marks (two out of five stars) in the latest customer service league table from Citizens Advice.

That’s a quarter of the firms included in the table.

The energy star rating assesses a wide range of customer service indicators, including numbers of complaints, call waiting times, and how easy it is to switch.

The latest figures come on the eve of new regulations for firms who want to set up as energy suppliers coming into force at the start of next month (July 5th.)  

Citizens Advice, the official consumer watchdog for energy, says these tighter rules should protect customers in the future. However, too many existing companies are still struggling to provide a decent level of customer service.

The charity says lax licensing regulations led to a wave of new companies entering the market.

Some of these new suppliers offer great service, and they make up four of the top five on our rating. But others were unprepared for the demands of the market and shifts in the costs of wholesale energy.

Ten domestic suppliers have gone bust in the last 18 months. Three of these were in the first three months of this year alone - affecting nearly 300,000 people.

Star rating data:

The results (for the period January to March 2019) includes 39 suppliers with 99% market coverage.

Citizens Advice dealt with nearly 1,000 calls about problems with the five suppliers at the bottom of the table from January to March this year. There were a number of recurring issues:

  • Sudden increases in direct debits - including money being taken after customers had closed their accounts

  • Problems with prepayment meters - including some people being switched to this system without warning

  • Inaccurate bills - including problems with broken meters and smart meters

  • Failure to return credit refunds

  • Difficulty in contacting the supplier to resolve issues.

At the top of the table:

  • SSE - one of the ‘Big Six’ - tops the table

  • Two newer suppliers, Affect Energy and Breeze Energy, are second and third

  • Nine firms score at least four stars

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Today’s rankings continue to show a number of firms struggling to deliver acceptable standards of customer service.

“The new rules which come into force next month will oversee new firms setting up as energy suppliers to make sure they’re fully prepared.

“But there also need to be stricter ongoing requirements and monitoring to tackle existing companies who are not serving their customers well.

“The energy supply market is not the free-for-all it once was. But there is still a big gap between those firms who provide excellent customer service, and a significant proportion who are letting consumers down.”

Citizens Advice price comparison site

The energy star rating is available online here. To support customers to save money on their energy bills, Citizens Advice, the official consumer champion for energy, also provides an independent price comparison site.

Supplier

Rating for January to March 2019

Stars

SSE

4.6

Affect Energy

4.5

Breeze Energy

4.45

So Energy

4.3

Igloo Energy

4.3

Engie

4.25

EDF Energy

4.15

Yorkshire Energy

4.15

Octopus Energy

4.05

British Gas

3.9

Bulb Energy

3.85

Green Network Energy

3.85

Bristol Energy

3.5

npower

3.5

ScottishPower

3.45

Shell Energy (formerly First Utility)

3.4

Pure Planet

3.25

E.ON

3.2

Utility Warehouse

3.05

Utility Point

3

Good Energy

3

Flow Energy

3

E (Gas and Electricity)

2.88

Ovo Energy

2.8

Together Energy

2.7

Robin Hood Energy

2.65

Tonik Energy

2.65

Co-Operative Energy

2.55

PFP Energy

2.55

Avro Energy

2.35

Green Star Energy

2.3

Solarplicity

2.3

Ecotricity

2.2

iSupply

2.15

Outfox The Market

2.1

TOTO Energy

2.1

Utilita

1.8

Eversmart Energy

1.8

Nabuh Energy

1.65

Notes to editors

  1. The energy star rating compiles data from all companies with more than 25,000 customers.
  2. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  3. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  4. We helped 2.7 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat in 2018-19. And we had 29 million visits to our website. For full service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  5. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  7. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 to talk in Welsh.
  8. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.