An already turbulent year so far for the energy sector took another turn for the worse this morning, as the energy industry’s ombudsman released some damning figures with regard to customer happiness.
Complaints have soared by an incredible 224% when compared with the first quarter of last year, which has coincided with an inquiry by Ofgem into the profits of the Big Six and the threat of blackouts by British Gas’ parent company Centrica.
Over 10,000 Complaints Already Received...
2014 has already seen 10, 638 complaints whereas the January to March period for 2013 saw just 3,277, marking a bad start to the calendar year for a market which has been described as many as “broken”. If the current trend continues, then the year will almost certainly see more complaints than last year, unless there is a drastic change in attitudes and/or behaviour.
This surge in customer displeasure represents record levels and with the aforementioned referall of the market to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the likelihood of improvement any time soon is seen by many to be remote.
Lack of Bills, Extra Charges & Bad Customer Service...
Of the thousands of disgruntled domestic and business energy customers, in excess of 2,000 complained about not actually receiving their bill but still being debited. There were also a myriad of customers who were far from pleased with billing charges and customer service has again been highlighted as a huge area of under performance by the UK energy suppliers.
The chief energy ombudsman unsurprisingly had plenty to say about the figures and has called for greater transparency.
“Consumer frustration and dissatisfaction is something that we hear about every day, and we welcome any attempts by Ofgem to make the energy market fairer,” Lewis Shand Smith stated.
“With energy complaints trebling in the first quarter of this year and problems relating to billing the greatest concern, increased transparency is something that should be addressed.” continued Smith.
Energy UK Back Suppliers...
Energy UK is the trade body which represents the UK’s energy sector and countered the statistics by saying that the majority of customers had no problem with the energy provider, either from a home or business perspective; but did concede that there are times when things go wrong.
“Energy companies work very hard to resolve problems and most complaints are fixed within a few working days with no more than a phone call.” a spokesperson for UK Energy said.
Although the spokesperson went on to say that suppliers were making things more transparent for energy customers and also explaining bills in more detail, it seems that the recent figures tell a resoundingly different story.
Some Suppliers Toeing The Line...
Of course not all energy suppliers are guilty of these falling standards, with firms such as SSE freezing prices until 2016 and promising money back to customers if they fail to keep their promises, customers across the country will be hoping that the other energy companies will be following suit sooner rather than later.
The energy ombudsman has also blamed the increasing pressure on businesses and families for the rising number of complaints. This has inevitably led to energy customers having far less patience and being less likely to put up with the bad service provided by the energy firms.
Compare Gas & Electricity Prices...
If you have had to put up with such shoddy service or are unhappy with the amount you are paying for your home energy or even your business gas and electricity, why not take advantage of Love Energy Savings’ free comparison engine? We are the only specialist energy comparison service to offer real time quotes online and will even get you switched over to a cheaper tariff completely free of charge!