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Energy firms aren’t solving complaints effectively

Energy firms aren’t solving complaints effectively

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 24/07/2015
First Published: 24/07/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

If you have a complaint about your gas & electricity supplier, you hope it's going to be resolved quickly. Unfortunately, research has shown that this may not be the case, and Citizens Advice is calling for change.

Complaints failures

According to the latest quarterly energy complaints data, the worst-performing energy firms have still failed to improve on poor complaint handling. The report shows no significant improvement in the number of customers complaining about energy firms at the start of 2015 – and in fact, complaints about five out of the Big Six energy firms have increased in the past 12 months.

The six largest energy companies received an average of 271 customer complaints per 100,000 customers between January and March 2015, up from the average of 258 complaints received in the previous three-month period. However, this headline figure disguises wide variations in customer complaint levels, with some providers receiving significantly more than others.

For example, Scottish Power is by far the worst performer, having received 1,154.6 complaints per 100,000 customers during the first quarter of the year. In comparison, SSE received just 55.1 complaints per 100,000, making it the best performing supplier of the quarter, a crown it's held for some time.

However, even though SSE came out on top, it still received a higher number of complaints this quarter than in the previous one, a pattern that was repeated among the vast majority of suppliers. What's more, the lack of improvement comes despite the fact that a number of firms have received sanctions from industry regulator Ofgem for poor customer service in the year 2014/15, showing that the message really isn't hitting home.

"Energy firms have no excuse for continued poor service," said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. "The majority of complaints from customers are about their bills, from large back bills to incorrect bills, or even no bill at all. With billing a basic part of the service energy firms provide, it should be the simplest thing to get right."

Don't put up with it

She added that while some suppliers have taken steps to tackle their ongoing billing problems – namely Scottish Power and Npower – some customers are still finding it difficult to get their problem resolved. It's hoped that an investigation by the Competition and Markets authority (and its subsequent interim recommendations) will go some way to improving the situation, but in the meantime, what can you do if you're not happy with the level of service you're receiving from your energy supplier?

The answer is simple – switch! By using our gas & electricity comparison tool, you can not only see which suppliers offer the best prices, but which ones have the best service ratings, too. This can make all the difference to your happiness with your tariff, and if you can find a cheap deal from a provider that's got a great rating, you're on to a winner! See if you can find a better deal, and hopefully you won't have anything to complain about in the future.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.