Smaller energy firms ‘offering worst customer service’

Citizens Advice has ranked TOTO Energy and Solarplicity at the bottom of its leaderboard

The Big Zero report

Smaller energy companies are offering the worst levels of customer service.

That’s the verdict from Citizens Advice, which has ranked the customer service provided by the UK’s energy suppliers – it rated TOTO Energy the worst offender, with Solarplicity coming in second-last place.

TOTO Energy scored 1.45 out of five between April and June this year, down from a score of 1.6 the previous quarter – at the start of the year, the only worse rating was from Iresa Energy.

Solarplicity has entered the leaderboard for the first time, receiving a score of 1.8.

Despite these poor results from smaller companies, others proved they could handle the heat – So Energy scored an impressive rating of 4.7, closely followed by mid-tier suppliers Bulb and Octopus Energy.

Citizens Advice suggests Ofgem should tighten regulations regarding who is able to supply energy.

Gillian Guy, CEO of Citizens Advice, said: “Too many customers are being let down by firms which aren’t ready or capable of providing a decent level of service. These aren’t small problems.

“It’s vital that Ofgem now tackles the problem of newer and smaller firms letting people down and tightens up the rules around who can become an energy supplier.”

Jim Butler, CEO of TOTO Energy, said: “We’ve made significant improvements in our customer service in the three months since this Citizens Advice star rating was taken. We promised to put measures in place to be better right across the business and we’re confident they’re working.

“Call wait times have fallen by over 70% to five minutes and customer complaints have reduced by over 45% between the second and third quarter of 2018.

“I apologised to our customers for falling short of the standard they expect during this period and we will continue to work with our regulator, Ofgem and consumer organisations including Citizens Advice to ensure that our customers can be confident we’re heading in the right direction.”

A spokesperson for Solarplicity said: “As we have made clear to Citizens Advice, this does not fairly represent our current performance. The ratings are based on our customer’s communications with Citizens Advice in the three months from April to June 2018. Solarplicity’s performance suffered during this period because an IT upgrade that affected our billing, smart meter bookings and in a limited number of cases the ability to submit meter readings. Our Customer Service performance has a significant impact on this rating whereas our performance in other areas – switching, credit refunds including sending out bills and statements on time – were not impacted but have much less effect on this rating.

“Things are much better now and still improving. We have been working very closely with Citizens Advice, including the Extra Help unit, explaining to them what we are doing to make things right. We have made some significant changes in the in the last three months and our customer service performance has improved dramatically, with call waiting times cut to less than 30 seconds, better than 90% of all the calls answered and cases reported to Citizens advice halved. We continue to make further improvements and are investing a significant amount in new systems to drive even higher standards.”

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