New Which? research shows Big Six still failing energy customers

The latest annual Which? energy company satisfaction survey shows that customers are still getting a raw deal from the dominant Big Six suppliers, with smaller providers scoring much higher for the fourth year in a row.

The six largest companies, which account for around 90% of the market, can all be found towards the bottom of our table. For the fourth year running npower has scored the lowest with just 35%, rating the worst for its complaint handling and customer service, followed by Scottish Power (41%), EDF Energy (49%), British Gas (49%), E.ON (50%) and SSE (50%). ScottishPower and Npower both fall well below the GB industry average of 48% in our survey. Spark Energy was the only smaller energy supplier to score as poorly as the Big Six, with a score of 50%.

The top spot has been awarded to Ecotricity with a score of 84%, closely followed by Good Energy (82%), Ebico (81%), Ovo Energy (80%), Utility Warehouse (76%) and Flow Energy (73%) – all are smaller independent providers. In our last three annual surveys we have seen smaller suppliers ranked higher than their Big Six counterparts.

Although our research reveals that the overall customer score for energy companies serving Great Britain has improved from 41% last year to 48% this year, this is still low compared to some other products and sectors Which? investigates.

Our Fix the Big Six campaign calls for suppliers to up their game to immediately improve the service they provide to help restore damaged customer trust.  Our survey found suppliers are still falling down on the basics of customer service such as dealing with complaints or ensuring bills are accurate and clear.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“For the fourth year running, smaller suppliers are wiping the floor with the Big Six on customer service.  The large energy firms, which dominate the market, need to up their game as millions of customers deserve better.

“We need the Competition and Markets Authority to propose radical remedies to fix this broken market. Instead of waiting for the outcome of the competition inquiry, companies should make immediate improvements to help restore trust among their long-suffering customers.”

The latest statistics from the Which? Consumer Insight Tracker show that energy prices are the top financial worry with around seven in 10 (68%) consumers concerned, and just one in five (20%) trust suppliers to act in their best interests. Despite this, switching levels are still low – although more people are turning their backs on the Big Six to join smaller suppliers.

We have an online petition where people can pledge their support for our Fix the Big Six campaign to help us fix the broken energy market.

Notes to editors:

1. In September and October 2014 we surveyed 9,404 UK energy bill-paying adults about their energy suppliers. Companies were rated 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.  We feature energy companies where we had a response size of 30 of their customers or more. The overall average for GB (48%) and NI (49%) are weighted for the market share of each company.

2. Full table of results from 2015 survey – they can also be found online. NB you can include this link in your copy so readers can see how their energy company is faring:

http://www.which.co.uk/energy/saving-money/reviews-ns/energy-companies-reviewed

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3. Click here for our energy satisfaction survey tables for 2014 and here for Energy survey tables for 2013 and 2012.

4.    Consumer Insight Tracker statistics: Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed a representative sample of 2,126 UK adults online between 12thand 14th December 2014.  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.

5. 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.

Our customers are currently saving an average of £245 a year on their gas and electricity bills. This is an average figures, so many customers save a lot more (this figure is the average estimated annual saving for customers who applied to switch suppliers between 1st October 2014 and 31st December 2014). Visit Which? Switch to compare and save.

6. 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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