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Energy customer service ratings ‘among lowest ever’

Energy customer service ratings ‘among lowest ever’
Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

The latest energy customer service ratings are at one of their lowest levels, with EDF and Utilita named ‘worst suppliers’, according to a charity league table.

In the three months to March this year, a record number of people sought help with energy issues from charity Citizens Advice.

And in May alone, it helped 10,038 people with energy debts, almost double the number it helped in May 2021 before the energy crisis hit.

Indeed, the charity said energy is the biggest issue people are seeking its advice on so far this year.

As part of its latest energy star rating for Q1 2024 which rates customer service, average levels have fallen by 10.5% compared to the same period in 2021. The levels have also flatlined since the end of 2023, the charity added.

Citizens Advice said customer service standards have still not returned to levels seen before the energy crisis, which caused many more people to need support from their suppliers with issues like debt and the force-fitting of prepayment meters.

It started the energy ratings back in December 2016 and said its latest set are among the lowest levels seen in the industry:

EDF and Utilita come bottom

The latest star rating puts EDF and Utilita at the bottom of the table, while Ecotricity sits at the top.

This time last year, EDF was one of the highest-scoring suppliers, but it’s fallen to the bottom after average call waiting times jumped from just under a minute to over five minutes. Meanwhile, Utilita has improved since last quarter but remains one of the lowest-rated suppliers.

Citizens Advice said there has been an improvement in average call waiting times following new guidance from Ofgem in December.

“However, companies are performing badly on their ability to resolve customer complaints, which has brought overall ratings down,” it added.

Here’s the full list of energy firms and how they’ve been ranked on customer service:

With more than five million people in the UK living in households in debt to their supplier, the charity said it is concerned poor supplier service will lead to mistrust among consumers, which can make it harder for people to seek help when they need it most.

As such, it’s calling for the introduction of a Consumer Duty – a new set of rules that would give regulator Ofgem stronger powers to “hold companies to account” and “help bring an end to years of poor customer service”.

Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “When millions are struggling to afford the essentials, it’s completely unacceptable that energy companies are failing to give their customers proper support.

“Citizens Advice has long called for Ofgem to be given stronger powers to hold suppliers to account on customer service. That must include tackling the complaints backlog before next winter.

“News that bills are dropping slightly from July will be cold comfort for the record numbers seeking help from our advisers. The next government must introduce better-targeted energy bill support for those struggling to keep the lights on or cook a hot meal.”

‘Star ratings contradict other supplier assessments’

A Utilita spokesperson, said: “We must not underestimate how savvy consumers are today. They will realise the star rating contradicts other market-wide supplier assessments – including those of Ofgem, Trustpilot and Which? – where Utilita performs consistently well.

“The latest Star Rating is also an anomaly when its findings are compared to those of the Energy Consumer Satisfaction Survey. The in-depth report, jointly commissioned by Citizens Advice and the regulator, ranked Utilita second for customer service among mid to large-sized suppliers.

“As such, we look forward to ongoing dialogue to close the gap between the perception the Citizens Advice Star Rating gives, and the reality other rankings provide.”

An EDF spokesperson, said: “We recognise our call answer times haven’t been up to the high standards we set ourselves and are committed to doing better, getting back to the market-leading service our customers expect. We’ve recruited and trained more people at our Sunderland, Brighton and Exeter offices and are nearing the end of a complex transfer of our residential customers to a new IT system, resulting in more customer’s getting in touch as we navigate this process.

“Our priority is always to provide great customer service and resolve customer queries, however they contact us and our customers rate us excellent on TrustPilot. We get as many emails, texts and WhatsApps as we do calls, but Citizens Advice places heavier weighting on call-wait times to calculate the overall score, which we’re calling on them to change.”