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Big six energy companies see rise in complaints and number of people switching

A rise in customer complaints and small suppliers offering cheaper deals, have seen more than 2 million leave the big six energy suppliers

Customers are waving goodbye to the big six energy suppliers

Customers are waving goodbye to the big six energy suppliers

A record number of complaints have seen many of the big six forced to make payments for failing to provide adequate service levels. Last week EDF Energy agreed to pay £3m as a result of a 30% increase in customer complaint levels.

In addition to rising complaints, small suppliers are now offering the cheapest deals on the market. At present the top five best priced energy deals are all on offer through one of the UK’s independent energy suppliers.

More than 2 million households have switched to a small energy supplier since June 2013. It is estimated that the average saving per switch is £200 per year.

npower: We are improving

npower recently announced that it had lost 62,000 customers, during the first six months of the year. Many customers may have left due to the German-owned energy supplier’s poor customer service levels, which saw it receive a record 306 complaints for every 100,000 customers between October and December 2013.

A failure to drastically reduce complaints by the end of this month, will see npower forced to stop all telesales activities, according to energy regulator Ofgem. npower has since taken steps to improve customer service, including enabling customer service representatives to resolve customer complaints directly over the phone.

Big six losing customers fast

npower is not the only big supplier to have seen its customer base decrease in past six months. In May, British Gas announced that 180,000 homes had chosen to switch from their energy tariffs, since January.

Saving money appears to be the principal motivation for changing energy supplier and consumers who switched to a cheap, fixed plan prior to last winter’s price rises could have saved more than £300 on their energy bills.

Read more

When it comes to energy suppliers, loyalty doesn’t pay

Should you drop the big six for a small energy supplier?

  • Jane Smith

    I have been with Scottish Power for at least 15 years, but have to say their customer service has dropped off the radar this last year. Having to hang on the phone for almost an hour just to get through, and then the promised return call never materializing, was the last straw for me. I have since moved to Flow Energy along with my daughter (who again was with Scottish Power) and so far so good. The big six do not command my loyalty, so they really need to up their game, if they want to see customers return.

  • Alison Ogle

    I agree Jane. I just switched to Ovo after leaving EDF. Ovo’s customer service and overall experience has confirmed that I have been right to switch. The big 6 don’t seem to care and why should we pay more for the same resource? It’s the same amount and type of fuel after all. There were a few reasons why I moved.

    1 – cheaper energy and better service
    2 – 3% interest on credit balances after the bill is paid (EDF stopped giving the discount for DD and dual fuel claiming their unit price was cheaper instead for paying by DD
    3 – overestimating my usage and setting my DD too high (£22 p/m too much!) despite my annual consumption figures being used and not encouraging monthly reads but twice yearly reads.
    4 – unhappy that they were getting the interest from January to August on a credit on my account that was over £700!

    About time more people fought back.