Small energy supplier So Energy has been named the best gas and electricity firm for customer service in the UK, with Outfox the Market being the worst.
Citizens Advice have released figures from their quarterly survey, with a total of five small energy suppliers receiving a score of less than two stars out of five for the final quarter of 2018. As well as Outfox the Market, who were rated 1.3 stars, the other suppliers to receive poor ratings were Eversmart Energy, PFP Energy, Pure Planet and iSupply. In the previous quarter, only one supplier scored less than two stars.
So Energy, at the top of the rankings, was rated 4.5 stars. Out of the Big Six energy firms, SSE came out on top with 4.4 stars, and was second overall. The lowest rated of the major Big Six suppliers was npower, who received 3.15 stars. However, they were still rated higher than 17 other smaller suppliers in the survey. The other energy firms to make up the top five were Engie, EDF Energy and Igloo Energy.
The rankings were based on data collected from 35 gas and electricity suppliers across the country, covering 99% of the UK energy market. They update their rankings every quarter.
Citizens Advice believe that the increasing number of poorly-rated suppliers, as well as the high number of energy firms that have gone bust in the last year, shows that Ofgem need to introduce stricter regulations to the market. They have called for higher requirements needed for new entrants to the industry, including proving to have capable management teams, and more stringent monitoring of existing suppliers.
“We have seen too many companies who were completely unprepared to offer acceptable levels of service,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice. “A number of these have gone out of business in recent months, leaving customers worried, anxious and in some cases temporarily out of pocket. The regulator needs to take urgent action by tightening rules around supplier licences, monitoring existing firms more closely, and enforcing standards where these aren’t met.”
There were various reasons stated as to why some of the smaller suppliers rated so poorly. The lowest performer, Outfox the Market, was found to have raised direct debits without any explanation to customers while being unavailable to contact. Eversmart Energy and PFP Energy were also found to be guilty of increasing tariffs and direct debits unexpectedly.
“In an increasingly competitive market, good customer service is just as important as price for many customers choosing their energy supplier,” said Lawrence Slade, chief executive of trade association Energy UK. “With 11 suppliers having exited the market since the start of last year – many of whom struggled with their customer service as well as financially – we agree that Ofgem needs to toughen the requirements for new and existing suppliers.
“Increasing trust and confidence in the market means ensuring suppliers are not only financially equipped to compete on price in a difficult climate but can also deliver the quality of service that all customers, including ones in vulnerable circumstances, are entitled to.”