Which? energy telesales survey

  • The third Which? energy telesales survey reveals the standard of energy company telesales has improved since last year, but we’ve found getting the correct details of the cheapest deal over the phone can still be a struggle.
  • According to Ofgem around a quarter of customers still ring up energy companies to check they are on the best deal, rather than going online.
  •  In 93% of the calls we made we were offered the cheapest tariff compared to 75% last time but we also found confused sales staff, the wrong deals offered and important details such as exit fees not mentioned upfront.
  • We rated companies based on how often they offered the cheapest tariff, whether they told us about relevant exit fees and how quickly they answered our calls. Scottish Power and Southern Electric scored highly with British Gas and Npower faring worst overall.
  • We found that when it came to offering the cheapest tariff Southern Electric, EDF and British Gas provided this in all calls. This is a big improvement for British Gas who only offered us the cheapest tariff in 4 out of the 12 calls in the last investigation.
  • On average calls were answered the quickest by Scottish Power (42 seconds) compared to 4 minutes and 26 seconds by Eon.
  • We were not told about exit fees by Npower in 6 out of 12 phone calls.
  • Sales staff struggled when they attempted to manually calculate energy tariffs.  In an earlier investigation (November 2012) we wanted to see how consumers themselves fared when presented with six different energy tariffs.  We found only 8% of people could work out which was the cheapest.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said:

“It’s good that the information given by energy company salespeople has once again improved, which reflects the work already done to make tariffs simpler, but we’ve found that some are still struggling to provide customers with the correct prices for their cheapest tariffs.

“Our research shows that energy telesales staff can be just as confused by the tariffs and pricing on offer as their customers, which means people have less chance of finding the best deal.

“As it stands the energy market just isn’t working well enough. If consumers are to be confident of getting a fair deal the Government must go further with their proposed reforms and require all suppliers to use single unit prices for their tariffs, so that people can spot the cheapest deal at a glance.”


Further info:

  • 12 mystery shoppers rang up each of the major energy companies over the course of a week in November 2012 asking for the cheapest deal

Table notes

New customer telesales score is based on the number of calls in which we were offered the cheapest tariff – 40%, the number of calls in which we were either told about exit fees or if exit fees didn’t apply – 40%, the number of calls that were answered within two minutes – 20%

  • Companies we contacted were: Scottish Power, Southern Electric, EDF Energy, EON, British Gas, NPower to get a quote for their cheapest deal
  • This is the third in a series of energy telesales investigations that we have carried out. More information on the last two can be found here.
  • Find more information about the Which? Switch
  • The energy telesales article can be downloaded here

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