Energy complaints reach record levels

Complaints form

Customer complaints about the Big Six energy companies have reached a record high.

Some 1.7 million consumers complained about one of the Big Six in the first three months of 2014 - the highest level of complaints since complaints began being recorded in 2012 and up from around 1.5 million on the same period last year.

According to Which?, the most complained about firm was Npower. It received 83 complaints for every 1,000 customers, an increase on 49 complaints per 1,000 on the same period for 2013.

Scottish Power had the least recorded complaints, with just 13 per 1,000 customers, while SSE, British Gas and E.ON all had around 30 complaints per 1,000.

However, British Gas and SSE's number of complaints had doubled over the last six months, while EDF's dropped from 77 per 1,000 customers this time last year to 46.

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Failing market

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said the figures are yet another example of a failing energy market and urged them to do more to improve the service consumers receive.

"Yet again millions of customers are being let down by poor service from the big six energy companies," he said.

"This has to change. If they want to improve the low level of consumer trust in the energy market, suppliers must up their game now, rather than wait for the results of a competition review."

The Big Six firms supply around 95% of the UK's energy and watchdog Ofgem is currently investigating whether anti-competitive practices in the energy market is leading to consumers getting a raw deal.

This week it was announced consumers unhappy with their current provider will be able to switch to another company in just three days by the end of 2014.

In response to the findings, a spokesperson for Energy UK, the industry's trade body, said: "Most customers are happy with their energy provider. But, in an industry which serves 27 million households, sometimes things can go wrong."

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I switched enery suppliers, to Npower, last August as they seemed to be offereing the lower priced tarrif I needed in order to reduce my energy bills. At least that's what I attempted to do,. Although I was sent an acknowledment of my application and an account number I never did  get a supply of gas and electricty even after I complained about the delay, which was in October. In January Npower notified me that they'd been unable to resolve my complaint that they were not supplying the power they'd contracted to do.  It was then I contacted the engery Ombudsman and they were obviously so snowed under with complaints it took them more than two months to contact Npower on my behalf.  Npower told them they were supplying me with electricty, a statement which the Ombudsman adviser actually believed even though I told them I was getting no supply of either gas or electricty.  They did get back on to Npower when I insisted that I wasn't getting anything from Npower.  Eleven months after I applied to become a Npower customer my complaint was finally resolved and Npower agreed to pay some compensation to me for the trouble and lack of customer service plus a letter of aplology. but said the cheaper tariff I'd selected in August was no longer available, needless to say I told them I no longer wished to become their customer.  So switching dos not seem to be as easy as the consumer is led to believe

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