Big energy suppliers slump to new lows in satisfaction ratings
We’ve all been there, wading through the endless phone menus, queues and scripted conversations
Simon Read is Personal Finance Editor at The Independent. He edits the Saturday Your Money section and writes the Daily Money column and Wednesday’s Midweek Money section in i newspaper. He also writes for the news and business pages of the Independent and i newspaper and is a regular money commentator on TV station London Live. He has won numerous awards including Consumer Finance Journalist of the Year.
Monday 20 January 2014
The energy market remains broken as customers of the Big Six gas and electricity companies say they’ve been let down once again.
A consumer satisfaction survey reveals that the score for UK energy firms has slumped – from a poor 49 per cent last year to a disastrous new low of 41 per cent – the worst satisfaction score across all products and sectors measured by the consumer group Which?
Caroline Flint, shadow Energy Secretary, said: “These figures are a damning indictment of a broken energy market that is failing to meet the needs of consumers. People are paying more than ever for their gas and electricity, but all too often the customer service they receive is not good enough.”
The scores for the Big Six firms, which control 90 per cent of the market, were the worst of all. Npower took the wooden spoon for the third year running, with a score of just 31 per cent satisfaction. Next bottom is British Gas with 39 per cent, followed by SSE and Scottish Power on 41 per cent. The other two of the Big Six were slightly above average performers, with EDF getting 44 per cent and E.on 45 per cent.
Showing the big firms the way it can be are two small suppliers – Good Energy and Ecotricity – which gained a82 per cent customer satisfaction ratings.
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: “Once again the biggest energy companies have been beaten by the smaller suppliers, but there are no winners in a broken market that consistently fails consumers.
“We want to see radical solutions to improve competition and keep prices in check.”
Ofgem, the energy watchdog, said its own research showed that many consumers are not satisfied and are confused by the number and complexity of tariffs on offer. “We started to implement reforms for a simpler, clearer, fairer energy market last summer. They will be fully in place this summer,” the watchdog promised.
Energy UK, which represents the major gas and electricity suppliers, said: “Change is already underway and will ensure dealing well with customers is at the heart of what our members do. Companies put a high value on the relationships they have with customers and are working hard to improve the service they provide.”
Dale Vince, founder of the independent supplier Ecotricity, said: “The Which? survey shows what we all know to be true, big energy companies provide poor customer service.
“We’ve all been there, wading through the endless phone menus, queues and scripted conversations. At Ecotricity we think people deserve better.”
He advised the big suppliers to concentrate on improving the experience they make consumers endure when they try to contact their energy supplier.
“It’s not rocket science,” pointed out Mr Vince. “We answer the phone ourselves and quickly, and that first person you speak to resolves around 90 per cent of all queries right there and then. And if we promise to do something, we do it.”
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