Energy suppliers have been called on to improve their customer service in an open letter written by the regulator.
Ofgem says that while complaints have fallen by about half since its last biennial complaints survey in 2014, customers who complain now are less satisfied with their provider – 30% were satisfied in 2014 compared to 27% now.
The main reason for complaining was billing issues.
As a result, Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem has written to the companies to tell them their results are “unacceptable”, and he has asked the six largest energy companies (British Gas, EDF, E.on, Npower, Scottish Power, and SSE) and the three largest medium-sized suppliers (First Utility, OVO, and Utility Warehouse) to respond publically setting out how they have made, and intend to make, improvements.
First Utility and Utility Warehouse have also been singled out and asked to conduct and publish a thorough independent audit of their complaint handling procedures.
The suppliers who came out worst in the survey - First Utility, Npower and Scottish Power - recorded the highest proportion by far of “very dissatisfied” complainants.
Npower and Scottish Power have already had to pay out for complaints handling failures. Npower paid out £26 million in December last year, and Scottish Power had to pay out £18 million this April.
But even the suppliers that fared best – EDF, Eon and SSE – failed to show any significant improvement in overall complaint handling since 2014.
Poor customer service leading to more switching
More customers are no longer prepared to put up with poor customer service and more than half (52%) of all complainants surveyed had or were planning to switch as a result of their experience – up from 44% in 2014.
- Use our Energy tool to see if you can switch and save about £300 per year.
According to new research by market research company, GfK, the primary driver to move energy supplier is price, cited by 83% of respondents of its latest survey, while dissatisfaction with service only caused 11% to be tempted into moving.