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Gap widens for energy complaints handling

Gap widens for energy complaints handling

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 01/09/2016
First Published: 01/09/2016

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 It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Almost as important as their rates is the customer service a utility provider can offer - nobody wants to spend days on the phone trying to sort out an erroneous bill. Unfortunately, the latest quarterly report from Citizens Advice shows that complaints are still a pressing issue, with the worst performing energy supplier now 80 times worse than the best performer.

Gap widening

The report, which looked at the performance of the 21 largest energy providers between April and June, revealed that SSE retained its top customer service spot with a complaints ratio of just 22.5 per 100,000 customers, an improvement on their ratio of 28.4 per 100,000 the previous quarter. On the opposite end of the spectrum however, Extra Energy also retained its place at the bottom, recording the highest ever complaint ratio of 1,791.2 per 100,000 customers, beating its previous record of 1,682.0 the previous quarter.

This widened gap between the best and worst performer is the biggest seen since Citizens Advice first started collecting the data five years ago. Common problems reported included late or inaccurate bills and difficulty getting through to customer service representatives on the phone – issues that nobody wants to have to deal with if they can avoid it, and can often lead to high levels of stress. Extra Energy has since put out a statement saying they are working to improve their service.

Fluctuations in complaints handling

Looking at the rest of the table, there were many fluctuations in complaints handling, with some companies improving substantially and others worsening by quite a bit. To illustrate, Utilita more than halved its complaints ratio to stand at 95.6, while Ecotricity doubled its ratio to 176.7 compared with the previous quarter.

Aside from SSE at a firm number one, the top complaints handlers were EDF Energy, E (Gas and Electricity), British Gas and E.ON, with complaints ratios of 30.5, 35.8, 79.5 and 85.8 respectively. Companies with a complaints ratio over 500 and therefore at the bottom of the list included, aside from Extra Energy, Co-Operative Energy and Scottish Power (at 850.3 and 571.5 respectively).

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "People shouldn't face a gamble on getting good customer service. The latest league table shows some suppliers are getting much better at sorting out their customers' problems, but it's disappointing to see others getting worse at dealing with complaints. All suppliers must step up their efforts to make sure they are delivering a consistently high standard for their customers."

What next?

Is your energy provider at or near the bottom of the list? Consider using our utility provider comparison tool to see if you can find better rates and service somewhere else

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.