These are the UK energy companies that leave you on hold for the longest

Some energy customers have to wait over 40 minutes to speak to a call handlerSome energy customers have to wait over 40 minutes to speak to a call handler
Some energy customers have to wait over 40 minutes to speak to a call handler
Some of Britain’s biggest energy companies are keeping customers waiting on the phone for longer than 20 minutes, while one firm in Which?’s latest snapshot investigation had callers holding for more than 40 minutes on average.

In a mystery shop investigation, the consumer champion made 384 calls to 32 energy providers to reveal how long it took for customer service teams to answer.

Which? called each provider 12 times at different times of the day and days of the week.

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Boost Energy, a pay-as-you-go supplier owned by Ovo Energy, was the slowest to answer calls.

On average customers were left waiting for 40 minutes and 58 seconds before their calls were answered – longer than the entire first half of a rugby match – with one caller left waiting for two hours, 39 minutes before their call was answered.

On four other occasions, Boost took more than an hour to answer phone calls to its customer service team.

British Gas was the second slowest provider to answer calls in Which?’s snapshot investigation. It took 23 minutes and 32 seconds on average to pick up calls - longer than a typical episode of Coronation Street.

This was closely followed by Orbit Energy, a small energy company, that left customers waiting for 23 minutes and 15 seconds on average.

Many call centres have faced challenges as they adapted to new ways of working due to the pandemic.

Around a third of energy firms kept customers waiting for more than ten minutes on average before their calls were answered, including three other large energy companies.

On average, Npower took 21 minutes and 46 seconds to answer calls, while Eon only picked up calls after 19 minutes and 40 seconds.

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EDF Energy customers were left waiting 13 minutes and 26 seconds on average before their calls were answered.

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Of the ten energy companies with the largest market share, Scottish Power was the second best and on average answered calls in two minutes and 28 seconds.

This is a massive improvement compared to last year when the Glasgow-based energy firm was the worst provider for answering calls and left customers waiting for 21 minutes and 24 seconds, on average.

Which? also contacted the 18 energy suppliers that offered a live chat function for customers and found Shell Energy was the worst when it came to responding - it took 33 minutes and 39 seconds on average to respond to queries on live chat.

Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?, said: “We know the pandemic has made things difficult for call centres, but it is unacceptable that some firms are still wasting customers’ time with such long waits, especially at a time when consumers may need additional support from their provider. Customer service is an important factor when choosing an energy provider.”

Boost said it had faced a higher-than-usual number of calls over the period, while British Gas said it faced challenges with staff at overseas call centres working from home, such as broadband and connectivity issues, and power cuts.

Top five longest waiting times:

Boost 40:58 mins

British Gas 23:32 mins

Orbit Energy 23:16 mins

Npower 21:41 mins

Powershop 19:47 mins

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