A “huge chasm” may be opening in customer service levels between the best and worst of electricity retailers to Britain’s homes, Citizens Advice’s latest survey of 35 providers has found.
From data logged in 2021’s first quarter, the charity warns today of a ‘race to the bottom’ among the worst-performing suppliers.
Error-laden bills, source of over 40% of problems presented to the CA’s helpline, are the strongest trigger for complaints to suppliers ranked in the bottom five of Citizens Advice’s five-star table.
CA says its ranking shows suppliers in the bottom five failed to provide an accurate bill for 15% of their customers, compared to less than 3% for those in the top five.
Suppliers failing to bill accurately are failing in their most basic obligation to customers, the charity warns. Retailers must protect those at the highest risk of debt, with tailored options for flexible repayment.
Unanswered emails and long waits on phone helplines are the two big gripes. The worst suppliers only respond to 35% of their customers’ emails within two working days, compared to 86% for the best suppliers.
Customers of Britain’s worst suppliers wait more than six minutes on average on the phone. That’s over three times longer than for account holders of suppliers in the top five.
Citizens Advice CEO Dame Clare Moriarty commented, “When customers with billing errors are unable to contact their supplier for help, it can cause immense stress. These problems are even worse for those who are already worried about money. It’s vital that suppliers fix these issues and provide support for those most at risk of debt.”
Information about complaints came from the Citizens Advice consumer service, the Extra Help Unit and the Energy Ombudsman. The charity used its data disclosure powers, requesting information on customer service, billing and switching direct from suppliers. Information on customer guarantees came from Energy UK, theetailer’s representative body.
The five best and five worst among the 35 surveyed emerged in the CA study as follows: