‘Big six’ energy firms admit to failing customers



Energy bosses have admitted in a new report that they have let down customers and that these failings have led to political criticisms and distrust. The leaked study follows energy regulator Ofgem ordering an inquiry into the competition of the market.

A draft copy of the report, which will be officially published on Thursday, has been seen by the Times. It warns of a “dire state of distrust” in the industry, following price hikes, criticisms and reviews.

The report, compiled by YouGov, spoke to senior executives from three of the ‘big six’ energy suppliers – Npower, SSE and E.ON – as well as some smaller companies.

The report says, “Customers were taken for granted, service was poor, and no one bothered to explain the situation to them.”

Findings from consumer group Which? show that overall customer satisfaction for energy companies fell to a new low of 41% at the beginning of the year.

Which? said customer satisfaction at the two leading renewable energy suppliers in the UK – Good Energy and Ecotricity – was almost double the average.

This followed the pair’s freezing of their winter gas and electricity prices, at a time when the big six providers were announcing price hikes.

Labour leader Ed Miliband pledged to freeze energy costs if elected and promised tougher regulation for the industry. The report said the industry “broadly accepts that it helped create the political opportunity that Miliband seized”.

The energy debate that followed price hikes towards the end of 2013 led to calls for a review into the pricing and competition of the market.

“The industry also accepts that it has itself ‘prepared the ground’ for what happened: billing was often confusing, never transparent, and complaints were handled badly”, the report added.

Which? has previously revealed that the ‘big six’ energy firms received more than 5.5 million complaints over a year. As a result, the organisation called on the government to fix the “broken energy market”.

Further reading:

Ofgem orders inquiry into energy market competition

British Gas boss faces calls to forego bonus

Competition in energy market is improving, says trade body

Consumers and business call for ‘radical changes’ in the energy market

Energy customers switching suppliers at three-year high, says trade body


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