Energy suppliers still failing to handle complaints effectivelyNpower and Scottish Power singled out by Ofgem
23 September 2016
Consumers are increasingly dissatisfied with the way energy suppliers handle complaints, according to a 2016 Ofgem survey. Some 42% of complainants felt their case was unresolved, despite it being closed by their supplier.
Since 2014, when Ofgem last conducted the poll, the number of complaints has halved. Yet customer service hasn't improved, with the number of domestic customers saying they were very dissatisfied with how their complaint was handles rising by 7%.
Npower and Scottish Power were found to have had the highest number of very dissatisfied complainants, with First Utility not far behind.
It's perhaps unsurprising then that 52% of complainants are either thinking of switching, or have done so already.
Are you unhappy with your supplier? Find one that's good on both price and customer service with our independent comparison website Which? Switch.
Best and worst energy suppliers
Looking at the Big Six energy suppliers, and three medium-sized ones - First Utility, Ovo and Utility Warhouse - Ofgem asked domestic customers and micro-businesses to rate how they felt after being through the complaints process, from very satisfied to very dissatisfied.
SSE fared best in the poll, with the highest levels of satisfied complainants. Eon, EDF and British Gas broadly stayed the same since 2014, so haven't shown any major improvement in complaint handling.
Ofgem has demanded improvement from all the suppliers in the survey, and has requested that the four companies rated worst submit an independent audit into the way they handle complaints.
In our own energy survey of 8,902 energy customers, we also found room for improvement when it comes to customer service.
None of the 25 suppliers we reviewed received five stars for both customer service and complaint handling. Four companies - Npower, Scottish Power, Co-operative Energy and Extra Energy - earned just two stars or less in both categories.
Read our guide to the best and worst energy companies to see which supplier came out on top in our survey.
Which energy companies keep you on hold longest?
We all know how frustrating it can be trying to get through to talk to a real person when you need to complain to your energy supplier.
To find out which are the best, and worst companies for keeping people on hold, we made 528 calls to 22 energy suppliers in September and October 2015.
We found that some are really rather impressive - Ebico customers got through to a customer service department in just 31 seconds on average.
On the other end of the scale, the median waiting time to talk to customer services at Extra Energy was just over 26 minutes. Yet it was often only a matter of seconds before someone picked up when we tried to speak to the sales team.