Citizens Advice warns over energy customer service after 13 firms go bust

A generic stock image of a gas ring on a home cooker in London Credit: PA

Energy customers have been warned to look further than “attention-grabbing” low tariffs following the failure of 13 firms since November.

Citizens Advice said its latest ranking of energy suppliers showed a “big gap” in customer service standards, warning that it was often “the first thing to suffer” when a firm was struggling.

Breeze, SSE and Igloo topped the charity’s latest quarterly ranking while Nabuh Energy, Utilita and Toto made up the bottom three.

Eversmart Energy would have come third from the bottom if it had not ceased trading earlier this month.

Among the common problems faced by customers of suppliers at the bottom of the rankings were billing issues such as incorrect and late final bills, aggressive debt collection practices, problems with prepayment meters such as credit refunds and faulty meters.

Citizens Advice is urging people to shop around carefully when looking for an energy supplier and recommends comparing companies’ customer service performance as well as prices.

Thirteen domestic energy supply companies have gone out of business since November 2018, with six suppliers failing so far this year, affecting more than 300,000 people.

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Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “There is still a big gap between those firms who provide an excellent service to consumers, and those who are letting people down.

“Attention-grabbing low tariffs can be a good deal, but we recommend looking deeper than just the headline price when shopping around for the best energy deals.

“We’ve seen six energy suppliers go bust this year. In our experience, when a company is struggling, customer service is often the first thing to suffer.”

We welcome the Citizens Advice ratings; however, these do not reflect our performance over recent months.

A Nabuh Energy spokesman said: “It is important to note that our performance in areas such as billing, switching and call wait times has vastly improved but have much less of an effect on the current supplier ratings matrix.

“As such, we have completed a thorough review of our complaints handling process and can confirm that we have implemented both new policies and procedures to ensure enhancement of our response and resolution time.”

Utilita said: “Proportionately, our portfolio services a far higher percentage of Britain’s socially and financially challenged households than most other suppliers, if not all.

“The weighting given to billing accuracy also skews our rating, as only 5% of our customers receive bills. The remaining 95% are pay as you go, who can view their energy usage and spend at the tap of a finger via their smart meter, in-home display or mobile phone.”