A report published by the independent comparison and switching service uSwitch.com has revealed that 19.9 million customers in the UK feel poorly treated by their energy supplier.
uSwitch says that the study provides a damning indictment of the UK energy industry at a time when energy prices have risen by a record 31% (GBP213) on average in the past year alone. The message from consumers is loud and clear – they feel that they are being overcharged for these essential services and receiving little in the way of customer services in return.
The report reveals that across the board, customer satisfaction with energy providers has hit rock bottom. In spite of this, there are still 10.4 million electricity and 7.8 million gas customers who have never switched providers.
Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com comments: This should be a wake up call for energy suppliers. Not only are they under-delivering on customer satisfaction but we have now seen the six major energy suppliers increase energy prices by an average of GBP213 in the last year.
Our results show that some energy providers are falling short on delivering the service levels that consumers expect. It is interesting to see that the companies with the most customers have been exposed as being the worst offenders when it comes to customer satisfaction.
An astonishing 30.4 million customers do not think they are being offered the best deal available from their supplier, less than four in ten (37%) would recommend their current supplier to a friend, 27 million customers don’t feel that they are getting value for money and 44% are not satisfied with customer service levels.
Perhaps most alarming of all is the number of people struggling to pay their energy bills, 5.7 million households are having considerable difficulty paying their energy bills following recent price hikes and almost 6 million admitted to being in ‘fuel poverty’, as opposed to the commonly quoted 2.5 million.
The combined 24.4 million customers of Powergen and British Gas, who dominate 67% of the gas market, may need to rethink their loyalty as the nation’s two biggest providers are left propping up the table in nine of the eleven major categories in the report. Customers of these two giants have witnessed two record price hikes in the last 12 months and it appears that their patience is on the wane. Overall the survey revealed that 14.8 million customers are seriously considering switching their gas or electricity supplier in the next few months.
Powergen finished bottom in six categories including overall performance (49%), customer support (34%), putting customers on the best deal (27%) and meter reading services (48%). British Gas languished below other providers on value for money (33%) and transfer process (69%).
On a brighter note, uSwitch’s survey finds that the Scottish based companies have the most satisfied customers. Scottish and Southern Energy was voted the best overall supplier with 70% or 4.3 million customers satisfied or very satisfied with their provider. They also lead the way in value for money, customer support and providing the best deal for customers. ScottishPower was regarded as the second best overall provider with 65% but was awarded the highest score for providing the best meter reading services.