UK energy consumers are experiencing plummeting standards of customer service from their energy suppliers, including rising call waiting times as bills soar, a study suggests.
New figures from Citizens Advice and Ofgem show customer service is at its worst since 2017 as the energy price cap is set to add an extra £58 a month (£693 a year) to household bills.
The latest ratings show the highest score was 3.85 out of five compared with 3.95 in the previous quarter – June to September 2021, and 4.40 between October and December 2020.
Suppliers at the top of the table include M&S Energy, EDF Energy, Octopus Energy, Affect Energy and So Energy. While the worst-performing suppliers were Utilita, Boost Power, Ecotricity, Good Energy and Ovo.
The lowest score among them was 1.70 compared with 2.10 in the previous quarter, a 19% fall.
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Experts say that the drop in customer service standards “comes at the worst time possible” and with bills due to rise once more in October, action is needed soon.
“With millions of people struggling to make ends meet as the cost of living soars, it’s more important than ever that people can turn to their energy company for support,” said Dame Clare Moriarty, Citizens Advice chief executive. “It’s Ofgem’s job to make sure companies are delivering a good service. But the current system isn’t working.”
She called for a ‘consumer duty focused on making sure customers get good outcomes is what’s needed”.
A Good Energy spokesman said: “We are disappointed with our drop in the Citizens Advice customer service rankings. The last quarter of 2021 was a challenging one for our team and our resources as the energy crisis took hold and we saw many suppliers go bust.
They added that the company is “committed to excellent service” and that’s “more important now than ever”.
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Rising call waiting times were driving the drop in service, with the average waiting times of over five minutes, compared with around four minutes during the same period in the previous year.
Customers with the worst-performing suppliers face waiting times of around 15 minutes.
Energy provider Utilita said: “As a company we really value the fact that the Citizens Advice energy star rating is performed every three months because we operate in a sector where change is constant.
“However, it is also worth acknowledging that the star rating does not fully represent what customers need from an energy supplier today.
“It does not take into account the financial support we provided on almost 200,000 occasions during the reporting period, nor the millions of households that our award-winning Energy High 5 campaign has helped to cut their energy usage.”
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