Fifth of energy suppliers ‘keep customers on hold for longer than ten minutes’

Consumer body Which? made 432 calls to 36 energy suppliers at different times of the week to test how long it took before a customer could speak with a member of staff

A fifth of energy suppliers’ customer service teams keep customers waiting on the phone for longer than ten minutes on average.

That’s according to a new report from Which? investigating which firms are the slowest in terms of customer service call waiting times – the consumer body made 432 calls to 36 energy suppliers at different times of the week to test how long it took before a customer could speak with a member of staff.

The report suggests ScottishPower was the worst provider and left customers waiting for an average of 21 minutes and 24 seconds before calls were answered.

Challenger firm Bulb Energy kept customers on hold for an average of 19 minutes and two seconds before calls were answered and had the longest single call waiting time of 41 minutes and 48 seconds.

Other suppliers that kept customers waiting for more than 10 minutes on average included Avro Energy, Boost, Bulb Energy, Engie, Green Network Energy, Utilita, Utility Point and Scottish Power.

More than half of the suppliers investigated had an average call waiting time of more than five minutes, including four of the Big Six – the other two, EDF Energy and British Gas, answered calls in three minutes and two seconds on average and four minutes and 19 seconds on average respectively.

So Energy was the fastest company when it came to answering calls, leaving customers on hold for an average of just 38 seconds, while Ampower, Ebico, Flow Energy and Together Energy also all answered calls in less than a minute.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said: “Energy customers should be able to expect good customer service from their supplier so it is unacceptable that some people are facing waits of half an hour or more just to speak with an adviser.

“If you are tired of poor customer service and wasted time on the phone, then you should switch to a provider that can better meet your needs, and potentially save you hundreds of pounds.”

ELN has contacted ScottishPower for a response.

Energy UK said: “Increasingly customer service is becoming as an important factor as price for many people choosing a new supplier or deciding whether to stay with their current provider.

“In a market that is more competitive than ever before with record levels of switching, suppliers know that providing a quick response via all the available channels that now exist is crucial to retaining customers – and attracting new ones.”

Bulb Energy told ELN: “We’re working hard to get back to the same excellent service we provided last year and that our members expect.

“Growing quickly has brought challenges but we’re taking action to get back on track. We’re hiring more people, building better tools and investing in technology and training. We’re grateful to all our members for their patience.”

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