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Customer service ratings across the energy industry are among the lowest ever, according to the latest Citizens Advice energy star rating

The league table rates customer service between January to March this year, when record numbers came to the charity for help with energy issues. Average ratings have fallen by 10.5% compared to the same period in 2021, and have flatlined since the end of 2023. 

Citizens Advice says 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 forcefitting of prepayment meters. 

It’s calling for the introduction of a Consumer Duty - a new set of rules that would give Ofgem stronger powers to hold companies to account and help bring an end to years of poor customer service.

 

Star Rating average scores Average star rating score

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

EDF, one of the highest scoring suppliers this time last year, has fallen to the bottom after its average call waiting times jumped from just under a minute to over five minutes in less than a year. Utilita has improved since last quarter, but remains one of the lowest rated suppliers.

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.

Millions behind on bills

Citizens Advice says it’s helping more people than ever who have fallen behind on their energy bills. Research by the charity has found over five million people in the UK are living in households in debt to their supplier.

Energy companies are responsible for providing support, such as affordable payment plans, to people who can’t afford their bills. But the charity 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.

Dame 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 rating table Q1 2024 Star rating table Q1 2024

Notes to editors:

  • Citizens Advice star rating (January to March 2022) compares energy suppliers' customer service by looking at information from a number of sources. Information about complaints comes from the Citizens Advice consumer service, the Extra Help Unit and Energy Ombudsman. Citizens Advice uses its legal powers to request information on customer service from suppliers. Information on customer guarantees comes from Energy UK. Energy suppliers are given a score out of 5 for each category. 1 is poor and 5 is excellent (a zero score is given if a supplier does not provide the necessary data). Suppliers then receive an overall star rating out of 5. Not all categories are equal with some counting more towards the final score than others. Further information on the methodology can be found here.

  • Citizens Advice launched the star rating in December 2016. From Q3 2016 to Q3 2017 the star rating measured performance on bills and ease of contact based on customer surveys. From Q3 2017 onwards these were measured based on data submitted by suppliers. Additional changes were made to the methodology in Q4 2020, including adding new customer service metrics. From Q3 2023, the billing and switching metrics were removed. The methodology, including all changes, was developed in consultation with suppliers and other stakeholders.

  • Historic Star Rating data is available online here

  • In 2023 the FCA began implementation of the Consumer Duty for financial service providers which ‘sets higher and clearer standards of consumer protection across financial services, and requires firms to put their customers’ needs first’. Previous Citizens Advice analysis has shown how the same approach in energy would deliver better outcomes for consumers, by delivering higher service standards, making it easier for Ofgem to hold firms to account and future proofing regulation as new energy products and services emerge during the net zero transition. 

  • New Citizens Advice data shows energy is the biggest issue people are seeking our advice on so far this year. And in May, we helped more people (10,308) with energy debts than at this point in any other year. This is almost double the number of people (5565) we helped in May 2021, before the energy crisis hit.

  • Citizens Advice is made up of the national charity Citizens Advice; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.

  • Our network of charities offers impartial advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free. 

  • Citizens Advice helped 2.66 million people face to face, over the phone, by email and webchat in 2022-23. And we had 60.6 million visits to our website. For full service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.

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