According to research carried out by The Daily Mirror, the big six energy firms – British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, ScottishPower and SSE – keep customers who phone them on hold 2,800 times longer than new clients.
In some case researchers found that potential new clients do not even have to wait for a single ring before their call is answered. This is in stark contrast to existing customers who can find themselves waiting for up to 48 minutes before getting through to an agent.
Calls from mobile phones can cost up to 40p per minute.
The longest wait awards
The longest average wait was for ScottishPower customers, who were on hold for an average of 40 minutes. The longest time it took to get through was 48 minutes, whereas new customers typically had their calls answered in just over 1 minute.
npower customers spent an average of 20 minutes on hold, followed by EDF customers on 9 minutes, SSE clients on 6 minutes and British Gas and E.ON on 3 minutes.
Chief Corporate Officer of ScottishPower Keith Anderson denied waiting times were an issue and said: “The feedback from our customers is that the majority of them are incredibly happy.”
The study was carried out by the Daily Mirror and involved calling suppliers at various times throughout the day to see how they were coping. Calls were deliberately made at busy periods.
Energy price rises led to increase in energy switching
The big six all raised their gas and electricity prices this winter, resulting in a mass exodus of customers looking to find better tariffs.
Government led cuts to green levies have since been announced or implemented by each of the big six. Although the cuts will see the average consumer pay £50 less on their energy bill after the cuts are implemented, the cuts will not wipe out the previous rises and most households will pay an extra £53 in 2014.