New low in consumer satisfaction reveals failings of broken energy market

The latest annual Which? energy company survey exposes a market that is falling short of its customers’ needs, as consumer satisfaction plummets and the biggest companies yet again fare worse than the smaller suppliers.

New Which? research reveals that the overall customer score for energy companies serving Great Britain has dropped from 49% last year to a new low of just 41%.  This is one of the lowest average scores for consumer satisfaction out of all the satisfaction surveys that Which? produces, across a range of products and sectors.

The six largest companies, which account for more than 90% of the market, occupy the bottom rankings in our table.  For the third year running Npower has scored the lowest with just 31%, followed by British Gas (39%), SSE (41%), Scottish Power (41%), EDF Energy (44%) and Eon (45%). British Gas and Npower both fall below the industry average (41%) in our survey.

The top spot has been held for a third year running by Good Energy, who this time shares it jointly with Ecotricity on a score of 82% – both are small independent providers.

All of the companies that made our table last year have scored lower, apart from Ecotricity and First Utility who have risen from 80% and 50% respectively.

The latest statistics from the Which? Consumer Insight Tracker show that energy prices are the top worry for around eight in 10 (84%) consumers, while only one in 5 (20%) trust suppliers to act in their best interest. As many as six in 10 (60%) consumers have told us that they are already dreading the cost of their winter energy bill.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said:

Once again the biggest energy companies have been beaten by the smaller suppliers but there are no winners in a broken market that consistently fails consumers.

“Our findings highlight why it’s vital that Ofgem’s first Annual Review of competition clearly identifies why the market is failing and what needs to change.  We want to see radical solutions to improve competition and keep prices in check, like the biggest energy companies being forced to separate wholesale generation from the retail arms of their business.”

Notes to editors:

  1. In October and November 2013 we surveyed 8,525 UK energy bill-paying adults about their energy suppliers. Companies were scored on a range of criteria, including value for money, customer service, complaints handling, clarity and accuracy of bills and how they help their customers to save energy. Customer scores are based on overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending the company to a friend.  Results are weighted by the number of domestic accounts each company supplies, based on data from energy firms.  We featured energy companies where we had a response size of 30 of their customers or more.
  2. Full table of results is here
  3. This is the first year that we have been able to rank Spark Energy and Utilita, as we have had enough customer responses to include them in our table.
  4. Click here for Energy survey tables for 2013 and 2012.
  5. Consumer Insight Tracker statistics: Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed a representative sample of 2109 UK adults online between 13th and 15th December 2013.  Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.  For more details visit Which? Consumer Insight Tracker.
  6. Which? Switch- If you think you might be missing out on the cheapest energy deal you can use Which? Switch to compare energy prices. Which? Switch is an independent service that searches the market to provide a comprehensive, transparent and impartial view of your gas and electricity options, including supplier and tariff ratings to help you decide on service as well as price. Visit Which? Switch to compare and save.  Customers who applied to switch with Which? Switch since last October are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.
  7. The Which? Consumer Rights website has more information on what to do if you are having problems with your energy company:

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