The big six energy suppliers have received some of the worst ever consumer satisfaction scores, rating even lower than banking providers, in the latest Which? annual survey.
Npower has scored the lowest mark for the third year running at 28%, with British Gas scoring only slightly better at 38%.
The consumer group found that smaller suppliers scored better results when it comes to customer satisfaction. Utility Warehouse achieved the best score of 75% with Ebico close behind at 66%.
The results are based on an online survey of 3,357 responses for gas and 3,957 for electricity which were combined in the scoring procedure. Which? asked consumers to rate the companies on customer service, accuracy of bills, ease of understanding bills and value for money.
Npower fared badly for bill accuracy, value for money and customer service. It has come last in all previous utility surveys.
This matches the findings of uSwitch’s latest consumer satisfaction report. It also found Npower was rated the worst for the second year running, only satisfying 54% of its customers.
Scottish & Southern Energy scored the best by satisfying almost three quarters of its customers.
The uSwitch survey, which was based on 5,000 responses, found only 52% of people were satisfied with the service they receive from energy suppliers.
Ann Robinson, consumer policy director at uSwitch.com, says: “With such clear differences between suppliers there is no excuse for consumers putting up with bad service. If you are not happy that you are on the best deal or getting value for money - speak to your supplier.”
Which? has also hit out at suppliers for filling energy bills with jargon, after around a quarter of Which? members said they find it hard to understand how much they owe their energy suppliers.
Bills are often filled with terms like ‘calorific value’ and ‘normal primary units’ without explaining to the customer what these words mean.
The consumer group is calling for the energy industry to provide better bills that include an itemised summary box so consumers can see key information at a glance.
Martyn Hocking, editor at Which? magazine, says: “Consumers aren’t going to be able to reduce their energy use or find the best deal if they don’t understand what’s going on. Bills need to be much clearer, and better customer service from the energy companies wouldn’t go amiss either.”
However, Garry Felgate, chief executive of the Energy Retail Association, says suppliers are continually improving the clarity of information to customers.
He says as a result of Ofgem’s market probe, all customers will be receiving an annual statement of their energy use by the end of the next year. Energy suppliers also have to meet a July 2010 deadline for improvements in the information on printed bills.
“Energy suppliers support these changes and are keen to deliver high customer satisfaction levels in what is the most competitive energy market in the world,” says Felgate.