Big six energy firms fail to improve complaint handling

Margaret Lynch
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch

The worst performing energy firms have failed to improve on poor complaint handling, according to energy complaints data from the Citizens Advice Service.

The consumer group’s latest quarterly figures show no significant improvement in the number of customers complaining about energy firms at the start of 2015.

Complaints about five out of the six energy firms have increased in the past twelve months.

Between the six largest energy companies, there was an average of 271 customer complaints per 100,000 customers in Jan-March 2015.

This headline figure hides wide variations in customer complaint levels:

  • Scottish Power is the worst performing supplier, with 1,154.6 complaints per 100,000 customers.
  • SSE is the best performing supplier with 55.1 complaints per 100,000 customers.
  • The lack of improvement is despite a number of firms receiving sanctions from the regulator Ofgem for poor customer service in 2014-15.

    Previous research from the group found that two thirds of customer complaints are about billing issues.

    Scottish Power became the worst performing supplier at the end of 2014 after introducing a new system which caused billing issues for many customers.

    Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch said: “It’s really disappointing to see complaints increasing across the big six, particularly given what we now know from the CMA investigation into the energy market.

    “Low levels of trust in the industry mean consumers are less likely to shop around and therefore miss out on hundreds of pounds of savings. Consumers deserve so much better.”

    Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “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.

    “While Scottish Power and Npower have taken steps to tackle their ongoing billing problems, which have caused a huge number of complaints, some customers are still finding it difficult to get their problem resolved.”

    The Competition and Markets Authority recently released interim findings of an investigation into the energy market, showing it is failing the vast majority of customers.

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