Crisis triggers social media backlash against energy suppliers

More than 50% of consumers’ “most critical” tweets didn’t receive a response from their provider, according to a new study

Energy companies fail to respond to “considerable volumes” of online complaints made by vulnerable customers.

That’s according to new research by social analytics business, DataEQ, which worked with Unstructured to track half a million social media posts about the UK’s leading energy firms over three months.

Each social post received a sentiment rating – positive, neutral, or negative – these scores were then used to calculate the “net sentiment” ranking for each supplier.

Analysts found that nearly 51% of consumers’ most critical posts – those that require suppliers’ attention and action – are going unanswered.

Of the 48.3% that receive responses, suppliers take more than seven hours to do so.

The study suggests energy suppliers experienced more negative social conversation than positive, resulting in an average net sentiment score of -53.6%.

The data shows that Octopus Energy achieved the best score (-23%), while British Gas performed the worst, having -68% – this was followed by ScottishPower (-59%), OVO Energy (-57%), E.ON (-56%), SSE (-52%), EDF Energy (-49%).

An Ofgem spokesperson told ELN: “Our Market Compliance Reviews are driving up standards for consumers.

“As a result of our robust review, we are currently taking action against ScottishPower and Utilita in relation to the support provided to customers, including those in vulnerable situations and in debt.

“Our next review in the series will look at customer service. Where we find that suppliers are not set up to deliver customer service up to the standards we expect, we will expect improvement plans and hold them to account.

“Ofgem would advise customers to contact their supplier directly should they have a complaint. If their complaint is not resolved satisfactorily, they can then escalate their complaint to the Energy Ombudsman or contact Citizens Advice.”

ELN has approached British Gas, ScottishPower, OVO Energy, E.ON, SSE, EDF Energy and Octopus Energy – the companies did not respond before publication.

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