Thought leadership

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 the 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 the Which?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 the last three annual surveys Which? seen smaller suppliers ranked higher than their Big Six counterparts.

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

Which's 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.  It's 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.

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