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Energy Suppliers Offer Poor Customer Service

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Far too many energy suppliers in the UK are failing to deliver adequate customer service, according to Citizens Advice.

Citizens Advice has just published its latest customer service rankings, with ten energy suppliers – over a quarter of the 39 firms included in the data – failing to get an average score of 2.5 stars out of 5. The worst energy supplier in the UK for customer service was revealed to be Nabuh Energy, with a score of just 1.65 stars. Eversmart and Utilita were not too far behind, with scores of 1.8 stars each.

On the other hand, nine energy suppliers scored four stars or more, with Big Six energy firm SSE revealed as offering the best customer service with a score of 4.6 stars. Smaller suppliers Affect Energy and Breeze Energy came second and third in the rankings, with scores of 4.5 and 4.45 stars respectively.

Some of the most common failings found by Citizens Advice include sudden increases in direct debits without warning, customers being switched to prepayment meters without consent, inaccurate billing, failure to refund credit balances and suppliers being difficult or unable to contact. The survey also looked at the number of complaints received, how long customers had to wait over the phone, and how easy the switching process is. The watchdog said it received around 1,000 calls from customers about issues with the bottom five suppliers from January to March 2019.

In the last 18 months there have been ten energy suppliers to go out of business, affecting around 300,000 customers. New regulations are being introduced on July 5, which will make it more difficult for small energy suppliers to enter the market. However, Citizens Advice don’t believe this will be enough to ensure that every energy customer in the UK receives an acceptable level of customer service.

“Today’s rankings continue to show a number of firms struggling to deliver acceptable standards of customer service,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. “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.”

Matthew Vickers, chief executive at the Energy Ombudsman, said: “It’s worrying that so many suppliers are receiving poor ratings for customer service. Our own complaints data reinforces the picture of an energy market that is very much split, with some firms providing excellent service and others causing significant and unacceptable levels of consumer detriment.

“We are seeing many of the same issues highlighted by Citizens Advice, such as failure to return credit refunds and problems with billing. Any consumer with an unresolved energy complaint can escalate the matter to us and we’ll investigate for free, requiring the supplier to put things right if we uphold the complaint. We are keen to work closely with all energy suppliers to help them improve their complaint handling and customer service more broadly.”

Fergus Cole
Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.

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