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Pricing and Bills Top Drivers of Consumer Complaints in Energy Market

phone-complaints

While overall customer satisfaction with energy suppliers is fairly high, customers have the most grievances about pricing and the cost of their energy (31% of complaints) and about faulty bills (28%).

That’s according to the latest edition of Ofgem Consumer Perceptions of the Energy Market survey, covering the third quarter of 2019. The energy market regulator, in conjunction with Citizens Advice, has been quizzing domestic energy customers about their experience of the market since the fourth quarter of 2018.

The fourth edition of the survey, released Monday, surveyed 3200 household energy bill payers.

It found that most (74%) were “satisfied” (40%) or “very satisfied” (35%) with their supplier.

3% were “very dissatisfied” and 4% were “dissatisfied.” Somewhat unsurprisingly, those who were dissatisfied were the most likely to have complained to their supplier (31%) than those who were satisfied (6%) or neutral (9%).

When customers registered complaints, they were mostly commonly about pricing and bills, followed by problems with smart meters (19% of complaints).

The number of complaints about smart meters is unsurprising, with first-generation smart meters known to lose functionality when customers switch supplier.  In June the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy estimated that 18% of the 14.9 million meters then online had “gone dumb.”

Traditional meters also frustrated customers, yielding 10% of complaints. However, those with smart meters were more likely to complain (12% complaining) than those with (8%).

Customers also complained to their supplier about discounts not being applied to their bills (17% of complaints), problems with their direct debit (16%), managing their payments (16%), a problem with a refund (12%), and attitude or behaviour of staff (11%).

Overall, 10% of customers’ recent contacts with suppliers were related to complaints.

31% of complaints customers reported had been completed. Another third were still being handled and a third of complainers had given up pursuing the complaint—perhaps due to the lengthy processing times. While the majority (55%) of complaints were handled in under three weeks, a significant portion took between one and two months (20%) or longer (16%).

While customers were frustrated with the complaints process, with 44% dissatisfied, those who did receive resolution were largely happy with the outcome (63%).

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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