CONSUMERS are continuing to register their criticism of energy suppliers with customer satisfaction levels with half of the Big Six major firms including ScottishPower and SSE remaining below average.
The latest annual Which? energy company satisfaction survey shows the Big Six suppliers are continuing to provide a poor level of customer service, with ScottishPower rated second worst.
It was smaller providers that topped the table for a fifth year in a row.
The consumer watchdog research has revealed the vast majority of people surveyed are still with the Big Six suppliers (87 per cent), and of the 8,902 people we surveyed, just 10 per cent had switched energy provider in the past year.
Three of the Big Six providers failed to meet the overall average customer score of 53 per cent.
Npower has, for the sixth year running, scored the lowest customer satisfaction score with 41 per cent – albeit with an improvement on its 35 per cent score last year.
Npower was closely followed by Glasgow-based ScottishPower (44 per cent), The Co-operative Energy (45 per cent), Extra Energy (47 per cent) and Perth-based SSE (52 per cent).
The other Big Six providers – Eon (53 per cent), British Gas (54 per cent) and EDF Energy (55 per cent) – also only just beat the average customer score.
For the fifth year running, the smaller energy providers top the table, with OVO Energy on top with a score of 82 per cent, closely followed by Good Energy (81 per cent) and Ecotricity (77 per cent).
Which?'s Fairer Energy Prices campaign is calling for the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) to fix the broken energy market and ensure that energy providers are providing an improved service to their customers.
The watchdog said the survey once again showed that too many energy providers are failing on the basics of customer service such as dealing with complaints or ensuring bills are clear and accurate.
The research follows accusations from Dermot Nolan, the chief executive of industry regulator Ofgem, that the Big Six were overcharging customers as they were not passing on large cuts in wholesale prices to consumers.
Last week the ICIS Power Index revealed that wholesale gas and electricity prices for the UK are at a five-year low after falling 23 per cent in the last year.
A report from comparison site Energyhelpline showed wholesale gas prices dropped 51 per cent while electricity prices fell 33 per cent over the last two years.
Which's survey, undertaken in October, last year, asked people what they thought of energy companies and were asked to rate them based on customer service, value for money, clarity and accuracy of bills, how it helps them save energy and deals with complaints.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Once again the smaller energy suppliers are leading the way when it comes to customer satisfaction, leaving the Big Six providers in their wake. With energy customers facing big bills this winter, energy companies need to up their game and provide the service their customers deserve."
The Scots firms highlighted the positives from the survey.
Neil Clitheroe, chief executive of ScottishPower Retail and Generation, said: “It is positive to see that we have recorded an improved score compared to last year’s survey results. Whilst there is still some way to go, our service quality is improving.
"We want to ensure that our customers experience all of the benefits that our new £200 million IT system will deliver, and there will be no let-up in our efforts to continue our improvements in all areas.”
A spokesman for SSE said: “Customer service is our number one priority so we were pleased to see a slight improvement in our score.
"However, there is more work to do and we will continue to build on our strong track record. We have recently announced improvements such as introducing SignVideo services, call back technology and have begun informing customers of their right to speak to the Ombudsman after six weeks rather than the industry standard of eight weeks to help speed up complaint resolution.”