By Mark Fairlie

In a poll answered by 8,761 energy customers issued by consumer organisation Which? across England, Wales, and Scotland, six of the UK’s main energy companies have performed poorly in comparison with the rest of the energy industry.

Utility company customers were asked to rank their supplier on the following measures:

  • customer service
  • complaint handling
  • value for money
  • bill accuracy and clarity
  • help in understanding how they use energy so that they can reduce it over time.

As a result, EDF Energy and Eon finished joint 22nd, SSE joint 24th, British Gas and Scottish Power joint 26th and Npower 31st.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Alex Neill, home products and services managing director bemoaned the “shoddy service, sky-high prices or failure to resolve complaints” that characterised the running of these major energy companies.

Npower to continue working on improving

In a press release, reported by the Independent, Npower said that their own internal polling of 100,000 customers showed that their service was improving. They also pointed out that, for their size, they received the second lowest volume of complaints in the industry. “Clearly, there’s more for us to do and we’ll continue working on improving our position in this survey”.

The Sun reported that smaller and medium-sized utility companies score very highly in the survey and that they “can help you save money too.”

Only 5 providers scored 75% or more

Across the range of measures, only five utility providers scored 75% or more:

  • Utility Warehouse
  • Flow Energy
  • Octopus Energy
  • PFP Energy
  • Utilita

According to Which?, respondents told them that price was the most important factor when selecting an energy company. The top-scoring firms had amongst the lowest bills in the market.

45% of smaller supplier customers were happy with their supplier with 52% happy with their mid-sized company and only 32% with their ‘big six’ supplier.

UK's Main energy companies dominate poor customer rating survey

Customers could save over £300 by switching to lesser-known suppliers

In the same report, boss Martin Lewis said that customers could save around £300 by using lesser-known suppliers.

In their report, Which? singled out Octopus Energy as their recommended provider of the year as it found customers of the big six energy companies could save up to £333 a year by switching to Octopus on a dual-fuel deal.

The Sun, comparing the cheapest price standard tariffs from British Gas and Npower with January offers from lesser-known suppliers, found that:

  • Together Energy was £333 cheaper than Npower and £222 than British Gas
  • Arvo Energy customers enjoyed £325 in savings over Npower and £260 over British Gas
  • Smart-meter supplier Usio could reduce Npower customers’ bills by £314 a year or £249 for British Gas customers
  • Bulb’s variable tariff was £311 less expensive than Npower and £247 less than British Gas.

A poor year for the big six

For the big six, it’s not been a great year so far. The Times reported earlier this week, that they are keeping callers on hold for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Oil and gas company Shell has taken over medium-sized supplier First Utility meaning that more price competition is on the way, forcing down profit margins.

The big six are also being urged to do more to help support vulnerable consumers, customers are switching suppliers at record rates, and the former energy regulator wants the government to force the largest utility companies to sell off their customer accounts to competitors.