Complaints rocket as energy suppliers generally suck
What a massive, massive surprise! The number of complaints made about energy suppliers soared in the third quarter of 2011! They always seemed like such a nice bunch of people didn't they?
The worst offenders, should you want to start looking elsewhere, were EDF, according to watchdog Consumer Focus. Their complaints were 91% higher than the same time last year. Clearly, they're doing something very wrong.
The figures show increases in complaints to five of the Big Six suppliers with only Scottish Power being the exception.
Consumer Focus gives each supplier a star rating based on the volume of complaints and EDF Energy's have now got the dubious honour of being the first supplier with a zero star rating in the league table. Npower and E.ON also dropped a star rating, leaving them with two and three stars respectively.
Adam Scorer, director of external affairs at Consumer Focus, said: "It is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, that complaints on energy issues have risen at a time when energy bills are increasing.
"Energy companies have repeatedly said they want to rebuild consumer trust. Good customer service and complaints handling are key ingredients to building consumer trust, but suppliers still have a long way to go."
The biggest concern for customers was the issue of back billing. Basically, 'back billing' is when you get a higher bill because you've been undercharged previously. Also big on the ire was communication issues, where customers, as usual, weren't able to reach their supplier over the phone. EDF owned more than 90% of these complaints.
EDF, of course, are quick to point out that they're in the process of implementing a new billing system.
In a statement, the energy giant said: "Despite careful planning and the recruitment of over 700 additional customer service staff to protect our service levels to customers through the transition, our customer services operated to a lower standard between May and September. In particular, answering calls to our customer service agents took longer than expected."
"As soon as delays occurred we recruited an additional 400 service staff, which naturally took time to become effective, and we slowed down our plan to move customers on to the new system to ensure service levels were stabilised and restored. The actions taken and investments made are paying off and the service to our customers is improving."
Let's see what the report says in three month's time, eh? Don't hold your breath. Unless you've got a gas leak.