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Complaints gap widens between energy suppliers

1 September 2016

The gap between how well the best and worst performing energy suppliers are at dealing with customer complaints is the widest on record, Citizens Advice reports.

Extra Energy performed 80 times worse than the best performing supplier SSE, according to the charity’s latest energy complaints league table.

Citizens Advice publishes the quarterly results to show customers how well energy suppliers are dealing with complaints. Suppliers’ scores are calculated based on the seriousness of the complaint against them and how long it took to resolve. Firms with lower complaints ratios are better at resolving complaints than those with high scores.

Citizens Advice’s latest table of the 21 largest energy firms in Great Britain, for April to June 2016, shows:

  • Extra Energy remains at bottom of the table for second quarter in a row  - recording highest ever complaint ratio of 1791.2 per 100,000 customers, according to our scoring system, compared to 1,682.0 per 100,000 customers the previous quarter.

  • SSE retains top spot with an even better performance - getting a complaints ratio of 22.5 per 100,000 customers, compared to 28.4 per 100,000 the previous quarter.

  • Last quarter’s second best performer Flow Energy drops to tenth place, with a fourfold increase in its complaints ratio compared to the previous three months.

  • Npower’s complaints ratio drops by over a third - however its rank remains unchanged as a new supplier enters the table in a higher position.

  • Newcomer GB Energy secures 9th place with a complaints ratio of 125.4 per 100,000 customers.

  • Utilita more than halves its complaints ratio, while Ecotricity has doubled its complaints ratio compared to last quarter.

The latest data shows many energy suppliers’ performances fluctuating on the previous quarter - with a few significantly improving their complaints handling and others getting worse.  

Meanwhile, the difference between the complaint handling scores of top of the table SSE and bottom place Extra Energy respectively is at its widest since the table began five years ago.

Common problems that people reported to Citizens Advice about Extra Energy included late or inaccurate bills and difficulty getting through to its customer service team on the phone when they had an issue to resolve.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“People shouldn’t face a gamble on getting good customer service.

“The latest league table shows some suppliers are getting much better at sorting out their customers’ problems, but it's disappointing to see others getting worse at dealing with complaints.

“Patchy and unpredictable customer service affects people in many ways - from the financial stress of being hit with a late bill, to the time wasted trying to get hold of a supplier on the phone.

“All suppliers must step up their efforts to make sure they are delivering a consistently high standard for their customers.”

Ranking for quarter January- March 2016

Supplier

Complaints ratio April - June 2016

Complaints ratio January - March 2016

1

SSE

22.5

28.4

2

EDF Energy

30.5

35.4

3

E (Gas and Electricity)  

35.8

54.0

4

British Gas

79.5

69.0

5

E.ON

85.8

91.1

6

Ovo Energy

91.7

90.0

7

Utilita

95.6

232.7

8

Utility Warehouse

108.5

94.8

9

GB Energy

125.4

N/A

10

Flow Energy

132.9  

32.6

11

Good Energy

153.2

92.2

12

Ecotricity

176.7

74.8

13

Economy Energy

178.3

189.9

14

Green Star Energy

265.0

153.6

15

First Utility

281.0

308.4

16

iSupply

347.2

607.1

17

Spark Energy

371.9

414.7

18

npower

383.4

652.8

19

Scottish Power

571.5

558.3

20

Co-Operative Energy

850.3

819.3

21

Extra Energy

1791.2

1,682.0



Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice publishes a quarterly league table on how the 20 largest energy firms in Great Britain handle complaints. It covers all domestic energy suppliers with more than 50,000 customers. The data is based on the number of consumers that have contacted an independent organisation for advice or support with an energy problem. Complaints made to the Citizens Advice consumer service, the Extra Help Unit and Ombudsman Services: Energy are weighted differently to reflect the severity of the complaint. Weightings have been allocated to reflect the seriousness of the complaint and the time and effort spent by the consumer to get their problem resolved. The weightings in the model place greater emphasis on situations where the consumer has had to repeatedly contact their supplier, or another agency, because the company has failed to deal with their problem. The measures used in the model are outlined in the methodology. 
  2. Ofgem publishes information on its webite about the complaints that the 14 largest domestic energy suppliers record every quarter. The data includes the number of complaints (total numbers, and by every 100,000 customers for each supplier), as well as information about how quickly these complaints are dealt with.
  3. Ombudsman Services: Energy publishes information on the complaints they have received about the 10 largest energy suppliers. This list can include smaller suppliers if there has been a spike in complaints. These are complaints that the supplier has been unable to resolve to the customer’s satisfaction after eight weeks, or sooner where the complaint has reached a ‘deadlock’ situation. The Ombudsman publishes data about the number of complaints it has received and resolved, the type of complaint, and the awards made.
  4. To get energy advice online visit the Citizens Advice website or contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers. The service offers free, impartial advice about your rights, and the complaints process, and it can also refer energy consumers to bodies that are better able to assist if that’s needed.
  5. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  6. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  7. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  8. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  9. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  10. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.
  1. Citizens Advice publishes a quarterly league table on how the 21 largest energy firms in Great Britain handle complaints. It covers all domestic energy suppliers with more than 50,000 customers. The data is based on the number of consumers that have contacted an independent organisation for advice or support with an energy problem. Complaints made to the Citizens Advice consumer service, the Extra Help Unit and Ombudsman Services: Energy are weighted differently to reflect the severity of the complaint. Weightings have been allocated to reflect the seriousness of the complaint and the time and effort spent by the consumer to get their problem resolved. The weightings in the model place greater emphasis on situations where the consumer has had to repeatedly contact their supplier, or another agency, because the company has failed to deal with their problem. The measures used in the model are outlined in the methodology.

  2. Ofgem publishes information on its website about the complaints that the 14 largest domestic energy suppliers record every quarter. The data includes the number of complaints (total numbers, and by every 100,000 customers for each supplier), as well as information about how quickly these complaints are dealt with.

  3. Ombudsman Services: Energy publishes information on the complaints they have received about the 10 largest energy suppliers. Occasionally the Ombudsman extends their publication to include smaller suppliers that have seen an increase in complaints during the reporting period. These are complaints that the supplier has been unable to resolve to the customer’s satisfaction after eight weeks, or sooner where the complaint has reached a ‘deadlock’ situation. The Ombudsman publishes data about the number of complaints it has received and resolved, the type of complaint, and the awards made.

To get energy advice online, visit citizensadvice.org.uk/energy or contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers. The service offers free, impartial advice about your rights, and the complaints process, and it can also refer energy consumers to bodies that are better able to assist if that’s needed.