You are here: Home - Household Bills - News -

Chat bots stay mute as energy suppliers fail on customer service

Written by:
A new investigation has revealed the worst energy firms for leaving customers hanging on the phone, with one recording a wait time of over an hour.

Which? made more than 450 phone calls in total to 38 gas and electricity suppliers and also tested live chat and email services.

It found Spark Energy was the worst for call waiting times, leaving customers on hold for an average of 27 minutes and 21 seconds. The company went bust last week. Utilita left its customers waiting for an average of 24 minutes 19 seconds, while one call went unanswered for 72 minutes 40 seconds. Anyone calling on a mobile could find themselves with a bill of up to £30.

The big six fared a little better, after extensive lobbying from consumers. Five of the Big Six energy firms kept customers waiting for around 10 minutes or longer on average. Npower was the worst at 20 minutes 31 seconds, but Scottish Power kept its customers waiting just three minutes 29 seconds. The best performers were small suppliers Affect Energy (10 seconds) and So Energy (21 seconds).

Live chat is gaining traction among energy customers to answer queries. However, Npower’s response times was more than 17 minutes on average, defeating the object of these ‘chat bots’. Which? researchers also found that some live chat options were frequently unavailable. For Eon customers, live chat was unavailable on 10 out of 12 attempts. Utilita answered live chat enquiries in 93 seconds on average, but was unavailable on seven out of 12 occasions.

Eight firms – Solarplicity, Octopus Energy, The Co-Operative Energy, Affect Energy, Sainsbury’s Energy, Flow Energy, So Energy and Tonik Energy – responded to emails or online forms within a day, on average.

Three in 10 (30%) people said they had phoned their energy company in the past year, while one in seven (14%) had emailed and one in 10 (10%) had used live chat.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “As if regular price hikes aren’t bad enough, customers of some energy companies are facing infuriating waits just to get through to a customer service adviser on the phone.

“’No one should have to put up with shoddy customer service and rip-off deals. If your current supplier is constantly leaving you in the lurch, you should switch and potentially save almost £400 a year.”


There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

Unfamiliar banks woo savers with top rates…is your money safe?

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the savings best buy tables, you’ll have noticed some unfamiliar names lu...

What the base rate rise means for you

The Bank of England has raised the base rate by 0.25% to 0.5% – following on from the increase from 0.1% to ...

How to get help with your energy bills

The rise in the energy price cap from April will mean millions of households will pay hundreds of pounds a yea...

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

Having a baby and your finances: seven top tips

We’re guessing the Duchess of Cambridge won’t be fretting about maternity pay or whether she’ll still be...

Protecting family wealth: 10 tips for cutting inheritance tax

Inheritance tax - sometimes known as 'death tax' - can cause even more heartache for bereaved families. But th...

Travel insurance: Five tips to ensure a successful claim

Ahead of your summer holiday, it’s important to make sure you have the right level of travel cover or you co...

Money Tips of the Week