Energy complaints soar to 5.6m

Only one in five customers trust the energy suppliers

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The Independent Online

Energy companies received a staggering 5.6m complaints last year as customers queued up to moan about bills, meters, service and payments.

Bad feeling is now running so high that just one in five customers trust the energy suppliers while eight in 10 are worried about rising bills, according to the latest research by consumer group Which?

It says “the energy market is not working for its customers” and has demanded a full competition enquiry.

It wants the regulators to refer the energy market to the Competition and Markets Authority and is asking energy companies to end practices that unfairly increase costs and damage customer service.

It also says the big six energy companies’ supply and generation businesses should be separated to cut down concerns that they could be manipulating prices to their own advantage.

It has called on the Government to control costs added to consumers’ bills and to make the Green Deal fairer.

“Millions of people are unhappy with the service they receive from the suppliers which, combined with low levels of trust, is yet more evidence that more must be done to fix the broken energy market,” said Which? executive director Richard Lloyd.

Npower was hit with 1.4 million complaints in 2013, the highest of the big six firms. EDF and British Gas both dealt with 1.2 million while E.on had 0.9 million. SSE and Scottish Power had fewer gripes from customers with 0.5 million and 0.3 million respectively.

The quarter with the highest total number of complaints for all six companies was at the start of winter - October to December 2013 - when 1.5 million were received.