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Extra Energy complaints soar - as figures show worst suppliers are getting worse

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Sep 1, 2016

It may be small, but Extra Energy is certainly making its mark –– by attracting the highest number of customer complaints for the second time in a row.

Based on figures released by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB), Extra is a shocking 80 times worse than best-performing SSE.

It’s the second quarter in a row the small supplier has topped the table of shame. 

Not only did it attract most complaints, it also broke the record for the highest number of complaints received per 100,000 customers since the CAB started collating the data five years ago.

There were 1,791.2 complaints per 100,000 customers, which is an increase from the 1,682.0 complaints lodged in the last survey. 

The supplier has more than 500,000 customers and markets itself aggressively, offering some of the cheapest tariffs available since it launched in 2014.

But its repaid expansion has come at a price – for those customers who run into problems.  

Common problems were late bills or ones that were simply wrong and the difficulty of being able to speak to customer services on the phone.

The difference between how well the best companies did when dealing with problems and those rated the worst was the biggest on record, the CAB reported.

SSE was once gain the best performer with just 22.5 complaints per 100,000 customers; that compares to 28.4 during the previous quarter. 

Even so, SSE – the UK’s second biggest utility firm – said last month it had lost another 50,000 customers in the first quarter and now has 8.16m subscribers.

This is a trend as bigger firms are hit by much newer and smaller companies offering cheaper tariffs.

EDF came second in the CAB survey with 30.5 complaints per 100,000, followed by E.ON with 35.8; British Gas were fourth 79.5 per 100,000.

Npower's complaints dropped by more than a third but it remained in the fourth-worst position, while Co-operative Energy and Scottish Power took second and third-worst positions with 850.3 complaints and 571.5 complaints per 100,000 customers respectively.

Meanwhile, among the other small suppliers, Flow Energy - the last quarter's second-best performer - dropped to tenth place with a fourfold increase in its complaints ratio.

Utilita more than halved its ratio, while complaints at Ecotricity doubled compared in the last quarter.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “People shouldn't face a gamble on getting good customer service.

“The latest league table shows some suppliers are getting much better at sorting out their customers' problems, but it's disappointing to see others getting worse at dealing with complaints.

“Patchy and unpredictable customer service affects people in many ways - from the financial stress of being hit with a late bill, to the time wasted trying to get hold of a supplier on the phone.”

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