Price rises and firm failures leave energy customers cold

Overall satisfaction with energy suppliers has fallen for the second year running after customers were battered by price rises and nine small firms collapsed, according to a survey.
Overall satisfaction with energy suppliers has fallen for the second year running after customers were battered by price rises and nine small firms collapsed, according to a survey.
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Overall satisfaction with energy suppliers has fallen for the second year running after customers were battered by price rises and nine small firms collapsed, according to a survey.

Challenger supplier Ovo was voted first in the industry for overall customer satisfaction with a score of 88 per cent, followed by Octopus on 87 per cent, said the price comparison and switching service uSwitch.com.

Its annual customer satisfaction report, now in its 13th year, used a YouGov survey of more than 17,000 energy customers to rank Britain’s “big six” suppliers and ten independent providers.

While the big six continue to languish at the bottom of the table, a challenger brand – Outfox the Market – ranked lowest for the first time ever with a score of 64 per cent.

Npower was the lowest-ranking big six supplier but is one of just three firms to improve its score year-on-year, alongside Co-op Energy and Ovo. Ovo’s top placing is its fourth over the five years it has been included in the ranking.

Overall satisfaction with suppliers fell from 74 per cent to 72 per cent, which uSwitch described as “not unexpected” after a year of constant price rises and the failure of nine challenger firms, leaving their customers shifted to companies not of their choosing, at least in the short term.

Ofgem announced a £117 increase to its default tariff price cap in February, swiftly followed by all of the big six matching it ahead of it coming into effect on April 1.

Several challenger firms have also announced increases to the cost of their standard tariffs and two smaller suppliers, Bulb and Igloo, have issued price reductions.

Rik Smith, uSwitch.com energy spokesman, said: “Following a year with a record number of price hikes from small and large suppliers and several smaller energy companies ceasing trading, energy customers have a less rosy view of the market compared to 12 months ago.

“It’s great to see that more energy customers switched last year than ever before – often choosing smaller suppliers over the bigger companies.

“Despite these advances, however, around 15 million energy customers are now receiving letters … to tell them that their energy bill will be going up by over £100 a year on 1 April. But households don’t have to accept these price hikes – spending just 10 minutes comparing energy tariffs could reduce your bill by over £300 a year.”

Npower said: “We’re continuing to make improvements in 12 out of the 15 categories year on year. However, we’re far from complacent and, in a tougher retail market, we know we have more work to do to improve our overall ranking.”