Energy suppliers worst for customer satisfactionWhich? survey uncovers ‘shockingly’ poor service

25 September 2008

gas

If you pay by direct debit, you underpay in the winter and overpay in summer

Energy suppliers are the worst-performing of all industries when it comes to customer satisfaction – according to a new energy supplier survey from Which?.

The average customer satisfaction score for energy suppliers was just 47%, compared with 65% for current accounts, 61% for home insurance and 54% for mobiles.

The results are unlikely to please the ‘big six’ companies that dominate the British market, with only Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) scoring above 50%.

Best and worst

Npower was the worst-performing supplier with an overall score of 32%, and British Gas wasn’t far behind with 40%. Customers rated both suppliers as poor or very poor for billing, customer service, online and telephone support, ability to deal with queries, and value for money.

Utility Warehouse the only company in the survey not owned by the big six was the top-rated supplier, scoring 72% for customer satisfaction and rated as excellent for customer service, telephone support and value for money.

One in five of those surveyed said they’d experienced a problem with their supplier in the past 12 months. These included not receiving bills or getting bills with errors on, suppliers not coming to read their meter, and contacting or resolving queries with suppliers.

Direct debit problems

Suppliers could also be setting direct debits too high. More than one in five gas and one in six electricity customers who were in credit said that the credit on their account was more than £100. Which? estimates that direct debit customers could have overpaid by £660m in total.

Which? researcher, James Tallack, said: ‘It was surprising to find so many customers in credit, as the survey took place at the end of the colder, darker half of the year when energy use is higher and people are more likely to have run up a debt with their supplier.’

Price hikes

Energy suppliers have come under fire in recent months after hiking prices twice this year. Average prices have risen by a record 38% – eclipsing 2006 when average prices rose by 32%. In July, a report by the Business and Enterprise select committee voiced concern that the energy market was not functioning as efficiently as it should.

Jess Ross, Editor, which.co.uk, said: ‘This is the first time that we’ve asked members about their energy suppliers and we’re shocked to see the results – too many suppliers are letting customers down and charging them more and more for the privilege!

‘These companies are providing essential services that people can’t live without, but this isn’t an excuse to offer poor value for money.’

Which Switch?, the free, impartial switching service, lets you compare prices and see suppliers' satisfaction ratings. On average, customers who used Switch with Which? saved £233 in a year, based on figures gathered from October 2007 to March 2008.

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

Which? RSS and Twitter news feeds

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? consumer news RSS feed. If you have an older web browser you may need to copy and paste http://www.which.co.uk/feeds/news.xml into your newsreader.

Follow @WhichNews on Twitter for the latest news, or @WhichAction to see how we're campaigning for consumers.