Simon Read: Things can go wrong. Often, for the energy Big Six


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The Independent Online

Now the warmer weather is here, it feels a bit odd to be complaining about energy suppliers. But just because you and I may feel less concerned about heating costs for the next few months, doesn't mean that your energy company isn't still cocking things up.

In fact the Big Six firms are getting worse, according to new customer complaint figures the consumer group Which? published this week.

The shaming numbers show that complaints to the Big Six companies – British Gas, EDF, E.on, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – have reached the highest number in a single quarter since records began, climbing 15 per cent on the same time last year.

The firms received 1.7 million complaints in the first quarter alone, with Npower the worst culprit. The company received 83 complaints for every 1,000 customers in the first quarter of this year – the highest number among the Big Six and up from 49 complaints per 1,000 at the same time last year.

The response to the figures from Energy UK, the industry's mouthpiece, was: "In an industry which serves 27 million households, things can go wrong."

True, things can go wrong. But after years of letting us all down, the gas and electricity companies have had plenty of time – and chances – to start getting things right..

In March the regulator Ofgem called for a full Competition and Markets Authority investigation into the industry. The shadow energy secretary, Caroline Flint, said: "These figures are a damning indictment of a broken energy market." She's right. Firms should be forced to play fair with customers.

Twitter: @simonnread

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