Gas and electricity Updated:
Are you happy with your energy supplier? If not, you're not alone. Industry regulator Ofgem has revealed that around 5.5 million complaints were made against the Big Six in 2013, and this year there's set to be even more – but you don't have to put up with it.
Ofgem's latest figures show that almost 4.9 million complaints were made against the Big Six between January and September this year, meaning that this year's total could far surpass that of 2013 – putting it on target for another record high. Here's a quick overview of the number of complaints received per supplier so far this year:
As you can see, British Gas easily had the biggest number of complaints, totalling a whopping 1.29 million in the first nine months of 2014. Npower is close behind at 1.14m, while Scottish Power performed the best out of the Big Six, with a comparatively low tally of 259,771. However, there's clearly work still to be done, which is why the regulator has called for action.
A brighter future?
Not only are better standards expected of suppliers overall, but Ofgem has demanded an improvement in their complaint handling procedures, after a customer survey showed that more than half of all households and small businesses were not satisfied with the way their complaint was dealt with by the supplier.
So, from now on, suppliers must resolve complaints more quickly and publish plans on how they intend to improve their complaints handling procedures, and they'll also be required to publish an independent audit of their process for closing complaints by the end of this month.
Ultimately, suppliers need to take action to not only address the cause of complaints, but to ensure that those complaints are properly dealt with. Once the necessary steps have been taken, Ofgem will launch another survey to see whether or not the suppliers have improved – or if further action will be necessary.
Don't wait – switch today
Of course, these changes won't happen overnight, and if you're not happy with your current supplier, there's never been a better time to switch. You don't have to go with the Big Six, either – smaller, independent suppliers invariably top the league tables in terms of customer satisfaction as well as service, and they have far fewer complaints, too.
It's easy to see why. Figures from British Gas show that customers' energy use is down 15% yet comparable bills have only fallen by 8%, while British Gas' prices have risen by 7% over the same period. Clearly, something doesn't add up, and with 50,000 customers leaving British Gas in the last quarter alone, alternatives are definitely necessary.
"The big energy suppliers are unfortunately plumbing new depths in terms of customer complaints and are set to rack up a record 6.5 million complaints this year," said Mark Todd, director of energyhelpline.com. "This horrifying new statistic shows why so many people are leaving the big suppliers for small ones, [with] 54% doing so through energyhelpline so far this month. So far this year the total is 66%, while the number of households leaving the Big Six is expected to be around 1.5 million [by the end of] this year."
Why not follow in their footsteps? Your energy usage is probably starting to ramp up thanks to winter settling in, so now's a great time to compare tariffs and see if you could cut your bills in the process. Use our price comparison tool to get started, and find out why so many people are choosing smaller suppliers over the Big Six…
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