Does your energy supplier top the complaints league table?

by , Researcher Energy & Home 15 March 2013
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We called for energy supplier complaints data to be made public and Ofgem listened. Now that the figures are available, you can see how the companies compare. Have you ever complained to your energy supplier?

An angry slice of toast

Last year we campaigned for the major energy suppliers to share information about the complaints they receive from their customers. Ofgem intervened and now these suppliers have to publish regular figures on their websites.

We pulled the figures together to compare the major suppliers and find out who gets the most complaints.

Harnessing the energy of 1.4m complaints

It seems to me that lots of people grumble about their energy suppliers, but I always wondered how many actually complained to them. Now I can see that in the last quarter of 2012, EDF Energy received the highest number of complaints – 440,317 in fact. Between them, the six major energy suppliers received more than 1.4m complaints in just three months!

Energy complaints table

There’s a big difference between the companies at the top and bottom of the table (see the image on the left). EDF had 81 complaints per 1,000 customers, while Scottish Power and SSE had 14. I hope that the extra visibility of this data will put pressure on the energy suppliers to compete on customer service.

Of course, it’s not all about the major suppliers; some of the smaller energy companies share their complaints data too. Good Energy has topped our customer satisfaction survey for the last two years, and I noticed that it shares this data with its customers online. I also spotted that Ecotricity’s website has a detailed account of its customer complaints.

Are you surprised by how many complaints your energy company receives? Is your supplier good at dealing with your complaints?

39 comments

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wavechange

I am in process of switching from e.on to Scottish Power, so it is good to see that SP are receiving fewer complaints. If they try to keep my account substantially in credit like e.on did, they can expect to receive complaints from me.

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Tony Webber

I have been with Scottish Power for the last 4 years. I do check every year to see who is the most competive and so far it’s been Scottish Power. I have had no difficulty in contacting them (other than the accent) and they are quite helpful. Your web page gives you all the details you may wish to know i.e how much energy you have used compared to last year etc. I will check again with them at the end of my “fixed” price in May and compare to other Energy Companies as I have absolutely no loyalty to any of them. That includes my Car Insurance as well. It may take a bit of time but its worth it.

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ALAN

We entered a contract with scot’ power in november 2012 . They were aware of our usage for both gas &electricity and we entered a fixed tarrif agreement . After just 3 months they sent an e mail saying that we were now so much in debit that they were going to put up our direct debit by 20 %.
I telephoned in replied . “That as this quarter is the heaviest quarter that it will balance out over the year”.The man I spoke to, was very pesitant that he would increase our direct debit ,I was equally persistant that he would not ,so much so that I threatend to close the d/d stright away he said that if at the end of the year we were in credit we would be entitled to a repayment of the over payment, I stated that we were not in the business of supplying an interest loan to a power company . In the end he agreed to leave it ,as I said we would just change suppliers.

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Steve Stroud

I too was with Scottish Power (electricity only) who had a very competitive fixed term deal that ended in March 2013. But their replacement offerings both on variable term and fixed term rates were not competitive with others. When they wrote to me saying they wanted to keep me as a customer (after I’d arranged a switch using one of the price comparison sites) I replied that I would have stayed with them if they were competitive and suggested that as a loyalty bonus they could look back on my old contract and if I could have got a comparable deal at a better rate they could offer me a discount equal to the difference. That way I would know they would always have one of the best rates. Alas they didn’t think the idea had merit but admitted in their response that this time their rates (on electricity alone) were not the best! Moral of the story is always shop around.

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Carl

I have been buying energy from npower and like Alan’s experience, npower tried to increase my monthly payment even though I was on a fixed price tariff. They first argued that my usage was likely to be higher since we were going into winter. My actual figures were almost identical to the previous year. I explained that the contract was for 18-months and based on annual usage figures. The price I would have to pay was based on those figures and that in spring usage would fall and balance out. My increase was around 24%. I refused to pay. They than tried again blaming the government who require energy suppliers to review customers usage every 6-months to ensure they do not get into debt. Even though npower promised any over payment would be returned at the end of the contract it is sharp practice and must be worth £m to energy company’s. It must stop. I have just switched to Ovi. I can only hope it is a more responsible company.

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wavechange

I wonder if it is worth pushing for companies to allow customers who pay by direct debit to pay the actual amount they owe rather than some figure that may be too low but is usually in excess of the energy cost. I that is not practical, the customer should receive interest (or the energy supplier if the customer is in debit).

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Olechina

The brief answer is ”They will”.
Sadly, the whole problem is the ‘direct debit’ system- which is an absolute boon to this type of trader- is that they can just dip into your bank account as if it’s a lucky dip. In the summer their charges are lower- that’s if we get some sunshine- in winter they’re obviously higher, often astronomically high particually in recent years.
The better system for us consumers was ‘bankers order’ which allowed a constant and equal charge to be levied each month of the year.
That charges are high goes without saying, what else would you expect following privitisation, and now the government uses the power companies as their collector of huge taxes, so called ‘green taxes’, for inflicting on us consumers all of those ghastly ‘alternatives’ that no-one likes or wants.
The tax levels now far exceed the ones previously proposed-17:5% vat- when there was such a revolt that the vat on fuel was kept to 5%. As always, they’ve found ways to rob us of more.

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rob51

i was and still am with npower i moved house but still owned the house i moved from and was still responsible for the gas and electricity bill but npower cancelled my account which i did not know so it built up and they were sending the bill to my old house as to the occupier and it ended up as over £500 i moved back to old house and got it sorted after about 5 months and now i have to pay a lot more a month to pay it off aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh

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John H

Over the last year, I have received more than £200 as compensation for poor customer service from npower

They have just sent me 2 bills and 1 statement to close my account.. These are confusing.

They have been instructed that these will not be paid until ansimple, single statement has been received.

The direct debit has been cancelled..

Which? Switch should include an estimate of the amount of compensation that a customer can expect to receive in the comparison figures for some suppliers.

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Hal C

John H’s post is of great interest to me. I have been in dispute with n-power since November 2012 when I tried, through Which? comparison, to transfer a single electricity supply to n-power. This is a supply to an outbuilding which has a very low consumption and the tariff I chose had no standing charge. Although I specified the supply number, n-power managed to takeover the supply to my house; part of a dual fuel account with EDF. To cut a long story short, the Executive Complaints team is now involved and a quote from their latest e-mail reads:

” I am very sorry that I have not been able to provide an update so far, despite our best efforts there is a technical issue preventing us from correcting the details of your account. Once again I would like to give you my assurance that this will be resolved as soon as possible and we will also be able to compensate you for the length of time taken to resolve this matter.”

What is going on at n-power? Is it not time for the company to be disenfranchised? And how do I calculate a reasonable compensation? We have just been through the coldest winter for 50 years and the knock on effect of N-power’s mistake has been that I was unable to switch my dual fuel account to a better deal. Finally, why does it take more than six weeks to complete a transfer or a reversal of an unautherised transfer?

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Mrs Morrow.

We also had years of bad experience with npower. Every bill that came in was Estimated despite us or a rep coming to check the meters. We did not pay by D/Debit. The Bills were so horrendous I was forced to look elsewhere for a new supplier we started off in Sept 2011 on £99 per month dual fuel with £100 cashback after a year beginning of Dec 2012, it was getting to crisis point with monthly bills reaching £163 pcm. this would have been £1956 pa. With a sick husband with heart problems.
I finally checked the USwitch data base, which came up with SSE quoting £81 pcm, which by the time NPower let us go, had risen to £99 pcm, now that is £163 pcm, which is exactly the same as NPower, so in fact we are no better off.
We had a new Gas Boiler Installed 27/9/12,and we were told this would make out bills a lot less, we spent quite a lot of money putting in new Windows/Doors, Insulated Walls/Roof, nothing has made any difference, even changed out both Fuel Meters. We have also installed every eco type of White Goods. We have given up, there are just no answers.

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Keen gardener

We had a dreadful experience with Npower on moving. Having notified them of final meter readings as instructed, the young lady who took the call failed to act on this as apparnetly she was just about to leave the company. When we finally discovered that our account had not been terminated, we also learnt that the phone call had not been recorded so that there was no longer a record of our final readings. After numerous phone calls during which I was offered about £10 in compensation, the company finally agreed to £50. This was to be sent as a cheque to our new address. Npower could not even manage this and sent the cheque to our old address. We were offered further compensation because of this which took the compensation to £125. Final bills began to be issued at intervals over 3 weeks with differing details. We then realised that we had been charged beyond the leaving date which the company by now where well aware of. This is just a brief summary of our experience. Basically every time we phoned we were given a different story until we were given a named person to deal with the complaint. Although this person did change there was a sense of the company wishing to resolve the issue as we had gone past the 8 week cut off before which we could refer the matter to OFGEM

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Avril

I also had a terrible experience with NPower when moving. All my readings I submitted online but you cannot do this with final readings and have to telephone them to advise you are moving. Over a 3 week period I tried numerous times on different days and at different times only to be left in a queue and told there was a 20 or 30 minute wait so I put the phone down. I was advised by a recorded voice that the afternoons after 2pm was the least busy time to call them so on 2 occassions I phoned around 3pm only to be advised th ere was over a 1 hour wait. I even e-mailed the complaints department and customer service department with my final readings but never got a response from them. I would never use NPower again and have signed with Southern who although not the cheapest can be contacted easily via the telephone without having to wait for hours and have very good customer service.

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Robin Redbreast

Just switched to Good Energy – 100% renewable and top of the table for service. Moving away from the big 6 has got to be a major trend as they still behave as if we have no choice – legacy of the old monopoly mentality. Follow the service quality.

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Mr H

When will Which take a look at SPARK ENERGY!
42 pages of complaints on Moneysupermarket.

Since October of last year i have been held to ransom by Spark Energy.
A company who’s services i have never engaged.
A company that has obstructed me from using my preferred supplier on five occasions.
A company that seemingly charges almost triple the amount of my preferred supplier.
A company that has never responded to my requests to investigate these huge bills.
A company that i have had to spend days trying to contact.
A company that has cause me nothing but stress and anxiety.
A company that has sent threatening emails, texts and letters despite the request to investigate the costs.

When I moved into my new property in OCTOBER 2012 I contacted my preferred supplier in the usual manner to move their services over.

Sometime later i received a letter from them stating that a company called SPARK ENERGY had refused to allow this to happen. This is something i have never experienced from any other supplier.

I tried in vain to contact SPARK by telephone but after some 3 days of trying to get through i resorted to the online option which did not work either.

I then received a gigantic bill from SPARK for over £400 for 5 weeks gas.
Finally after wasting a few more days of failed attempts i got through to MICHAEL BLACKWOOD. A team leader no less.

Michael said in writing that – (I can confirm that we are in the process of disputing your initial Gas meter read based on customer reads you have provided us.)

Michael also took £82 in payment. an amount that i also questioned as being rather high for 5 weeks gas usage in a 1 bedroom flat.

I have never heard anything at all from Mr Blackwood since that day. I did email a further 7 times and call constantly but with no joy.

What i did get was threatening letters -texts – emails regarding the money and also letters stating that i faced possible charges of 15% should i not settle.

15th Jan i received a 5 page letter (NOT DATED) asking for £434.50, £331.09 and £389.94. Any one of these amounts is at least 60% higher than was expected.

I called the “customer service” and after 45 minutes waiting got through and asked to speak with a manager i was reassured that a manager would call back at 1pm. I received no call.

I have received another letter from my preferred supplier Utility Warehouse 18/02/2013 informiong me that Saprk Energy have again “objected to the transfer”

I am still waiting for a response to resolve this matter.

I have moved property some 5 times over the last eight years and on every occasion the change over to my preferred supplier has taken a few days with out any problems or extra costs at all. Now through no fault of my own or my preferred supplier i have had 5 months of stress, wasted time and a ludicrously high bill from Spark Energy.

How can a company charge me nearly triple an extra for services i have never wanted?

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Eric Golding

I have had cause to use Ovo customer service and found them to be very good.

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Chris C.

Changed from EDF. OCT 2012. as the tarriff I was on ended .

EDF could have let me transfer to their Blue energy plan some 3 weeks before my existing contract ended. Blue energy was suddenly withdrawn about a week after I contacted them but they failed to tell me when I contacted them about finding new deal I could change the tarriff and not have to pay the penalty clause . mighty miffed about that .

Shopped around , switched to OVO. as they were cheaper supplier than what the original EDF tarriff was . so far everthing has gone as it should. Only snag is doing it all again later this year as OVO tarriffs have now increased,

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erwin

re npower.
once I was in credit to the amount of 455pounds,now it has been reduced to 57 pounds,it is almost impossible to check back to find out where the have got this number from.the tariffs are so confusing .
it is about time these people were brought to book.
but who cares about the ordinary people.
mind you I shall vote with my feet and move on.
good luck

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Janet H

I have also found Ovo customer services to be prompt and helpful.

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Patricia

We never see any comments about stay warm.How do they rate?

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John Hadlow

All your efforts are based around the major energy companies. We also need urgent action on those companies that supply Heating Oil and LPG Gas. The price variations just within Pembrokeshire are horrendous. I pay 0.42 per litre, but we have friends who vary from 0.47 to 0.72.

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colbee

Knowing the number of complaints received per company is unhelpful without a detailed breakdown of the nature of complaints; and if the figures are self-supplied, how reliable can they be?. I suspect most complaints will be about billing/meter readings. But what about complaints which are not about the supply of energy, such as boiler breakdownmaintenance, which are therefore not within the remit of Ofgem? Websites are teeming with complaints about energy companies and their poor performance in respect of boiler service/maintenance There seems to be no regulatory authority to cover this aspect and at least one company (Scottish Power) is the self-arbiter of what action, if any, will result from a complaint about service. Insurance backed maintenance contracts may be referred to the FSA but this is not helpful; nor is the Department of Trading Standards of any use, so one is left with the Small Claims Court which, I understand, is primarily concerned with monetary loss rather than any discomfort or inconvenience and there is apparently no penalty for failing to perform to contract. The energy companies know this and so treat their customers with contempt.

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Ken Onion

I’ve twice had to complain to British Gas – solar. In the case last week they asked me for information about the installation and they advised me that if I didn’t have it I should contact my supplier. Which was, of course, British Gas itself. This had happened some months ago about a meter reading, which I supplied but also requested some advice and clarification about the installation. Once again, I was told to contact my supplier. I complained about this and received a reply in very broken english . I then complained sharply about this. Following a few days of investigation by a sympathetic member of staff I received an apology and was told that they had they had, shortly before outsourced parts of their complaints team to a country in eastern Europe and that my complaint would trigger a review. My experience is that the individual members of BG staff are nice and try hard to sort things out and that much of their work is clearing up following confusion arising from the use of standardised initial responses – and very poorly selected and trained overseas staff.

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RON

When are the Energy companies going to make our bills more easy to read and calculate, as PROMISED in the PAST YEARS ?????? How many of their customers are confused at the bills they receive ???? Do They deliberately send these bills so we can’t understand them ????

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Neil

I have been a Scottish Power customer for mearly 10 years now and I see no reason to change as they are consistantly cheaper than the other companies and if I have had to ring them they have always been more than helpful to me and very friendly. I would certainly reccommend them.

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John Beck

Ever since I was with First Utility, who billed for actual usage on a monthly basis, I have taken regular monthly meter readings and plotted these on a spread sheet. I can now check the cost on the Which comparison site according to my actual annual consumption. I find this the best way of comparing different suppliers. Though I liked the First Utility arrangement their accounting accuracy was appalling and it took them nearly two years to resolve their problems despite the involvement of the energy Ombudsman. Hence I am no longer with First Utility.

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David Absalom

My contract with Npower finishes in May 2013. In January this year, on the basis of an estimate of annual consumption, they increased my dual fuel monthly direct debit from £108 to £144. It transpires that the reasons for this are mainly that they have used a unit price for electricity of 14p/kWh from May (compared to the current price of 9p) and divided my forecast annual cost by 11 to arrive at a new monthly figure. I have had no reply to an email complaint nor a letter to the Customer Service Director. When I rang to complain the answer was that they had assumed I would continue to pay the standard tariff in May when the contract had expired. They refused to change the monthly DD back to £108.
A recent bill shows that my consumption has continued at the £108 rate but the amount I am in credit has increased, the interest on which of course goes into the Npower coffers not mine.

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Alistair

Having moved to First Utility, after a few months my wife switched bank accounts.

On her online banking account we can see First Utility correctly setup to take monthly payment on 28th March, which they failed to action!
On the 28th March she received email from them stating that as her bank (old one) had informed them that she had cancelled D/D, she would receive payment instructions with the March invoice!

We have informed them of their error in failing to take payment from the new account and are waiting on a reply!

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Syd Henley

I am with NPower on their dual fuel scheme and have been since 2007 and never had any real complaint about their service, other than the fact that they keep messing around with the value of the direct debit. Sometimes it is much lower than I agreed to originally and sometimes it is very much higher. They take payments monthly and these have been as low as £36.00 and as high as £85.00 while my agreement was for a straight £50.00 per month every month through the year.
I am a disabled pensioner on a very low fixed income and these big fluctuations make it very difficult to budget effectively and have on a few occasions caused me to become overdrawn with all the added costs that involves, with the bank charging £20 for a letter telling you your overdrawn plus the excess interest charges on the overdrawn amount.
Despite this, NPower are still in my opinion far better than British Gas who I had the great misfortune to be with previously.

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Geoff Brown

July 2012 I changed from Npower to Co-op energy on the advice of Which through there energy servey. This proved to be a very sound piece of advice and through this long and very cold winter I am still in credit with my account and I keep my bungalow at 20 Deg C all day. The coop have a very good accounting system, I send meter readings on the 1st of each month and when I look at my account 5 day’s later they have worked out how much gas and electricity I have used in the month,the cost and how my account is, credit or debit. A very good system and I am shore that by the end of 1st year with them I will be well in credit and a very happy man. A very good move.
Three cheers to the Co-op.

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MoBe

Dreadful experience with NPower which sent me a bill for £2,600 plus on account of its past underestimates over two years of my energy use. A faulty NPower meter was the likely cause. Lots more troubles in trying to sort out the matter. Eventually with my being about to contact the energy regulator, £500 was knocked off the bill as a good will gesture

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Phil

Npower have, without notifying me, increased my DD from £111 to £358 monthly after their agent misreading my electric meter by over a 1,000 + units in October. Only discovered this recently.

Register type Last reading date Submitted by Reading
Credit Meter 24 hours 01/03/2013 Customer 65920
Credit Meter 24 hours 11/10/2012 npower 66976

Resulted in £1308.07 in credit but caused a £20 overdraft fee at my bank. I have supplied numerous accurate readings including photos of my meter, lodged several complaints on their website, plus emails, as well as requested that our direct debit be substantially reduced if they continue to hold our money. No response or apology. Terrible service.

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wavechange

I would be inclined to instruct the bank to cancel the DD and wait for nPower to take action. It would be interesting to know what action nPower takes.

Obviously you would need to keep a check on your meters to ensure that you do not run into debit.

Best of luck.

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Phil

Yes, working on that and keeping an eye on them. Now also doing regular readings ourselves as we don’t trust them

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wavechange

Do let us know how you get on, Phil. I’ve been in a similar position myself, though it was due to my mistake – thanks to the fact that my late parents’ house had electricity supplied by a gas company or vice versa. I eventually gave up my attempts to get a refund because I was upset at the time.

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Michael

I have been with Coop energy since last year and find their simple billing system enables me to work out the bill at any time.

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Sue

I give British Gas my meter readings every month and they work out how much I owe and take it by direct debit so it is like “pay as you go” so I am always up to date unlike two other suppliers who told me my monthly payment would be x-amount only to find in both cases I owed them over £200.00 at the end of the year.

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Nick

I am disabled following a brain injury and had switched to Npower the month before the accident.

For the first year it seemed everything was OK then suddenly I received a bill for £1500 from my previous supplier British Gas for a couple of days usage. After checking that they were using a wrong meter reading I repeatedly refused to pay. I had a year of harassment before after writing the CEO and Finance Director of the parent company Centrica and with a copy alleging fraud to their external auditors the continual harassment stopped.

I then had cause to complain to Npower after they had not billed me the rates they had emailed me I would be paying . After at least 50 emails from me and having got nowhere I complained to the Energy Ombudsman who after 2 years agreed that they were wrong and should repay me. The Energy Ombudsman refused to demand any compensation for the 50 emails and continual harassment which was caused by npower incorrectly misreading my gas meter.

Since then I have had to spend hundreds of hours reconciling my accounts and discovered to my horror that after a further 40 emails that Npower have issued 6 secret bills and never ever informing me of these. It was only after repeated requests for explanations from their so called Executive Complaints, that I discovered the missing bills.

Now I have all the bills I have also discovered that Npower have repeatedly billed me according to their estimates and never according to my meter readings which mean significantly lower prices.

A year ago I asked for a repayment of the substantial credit I have built up which is over £1000. Every annual discount I have had to insist they pay and credit to my account which at £115 per annum is not insubstantial.

All npower do is either refuse to answer and or write rubbish which is because their staff are not professionals (I am an accountant and MBA and have never come across this level of incompetence and failure to comply with contract law.

I would strongly recommend everyone avoid Npower as they simply have absolutely no morality and have never offered a penny in compensation for all the emails and hard work I have done to prove they have substantially overbilled me in these 6 secret bills.

Try to get them to act is impossible and to even show an ounce of compassion is clearly beyond their staff who seem trained simply to lie and lie and refuse to deal with valid complaints.

I have never come across an organisation of this size which operates so questionably and with this level of repeated incompetence…

What is worse is that the Energy Ombusdman does nothing and it is quite clear that my repeated requests they apply the law (on contract and harassment as detailed in Which in several recent landmark cases) is ignored. The Energy Ombudsman is also useless and simply toothless and clearly a poodle in the pockets of npower as staff at npower have told me weeks before the Energy Ombudsman wrote to me that the Ombudsman would offer nothing for the constant harassment for over a year and offer not one penny for having to write the emails (in total over 90) to npower’s so called Executive Complaints section .

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wavechange

Having decided to switch from e.on to Scottish Power I recently received a call from e.on, asking me to reconsider, and did so at least three times. I explained that the reason I was changing was that I had registered with a collective switching scheme and that a comparison website had confirmed that the deal was better than anything else on offer.

The caller from e.on said that information provided by comparison websites is not up-to-date, so I suggested that the answer might be to provide them with current information.

I complimented e.on for their clear billing and for being very responsive to my calls about being kept with a large credit balance at most times, and pointed out that their failure to address this problem was main reason for dissatisfaction with their service. I said that I would review energy prices in future and might return as a customer if at that time they offered a better deal.

Now I have had a letter from e.on, urging me to reconsider leaving them. I rang up and said that I do not want to receive any more correspondence and if they ignore that it is unlikely that I will consider using e.on in future.

Let me have my final bill please, e.on. Stop wasting customers’ money trying to regain customers that have left for good reasons.

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