Energy customer service standards continue to slide

1 July 2022 15:32   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Latest quarterly research from Citizens Advice shows energy customer service levels are the worst on record.

Standards across the board have suffered a sharp drop since the middle of 2021 when energy suppliers began collapsing and millions of customers were displaced.

Call waiting times have risen and customers are reporting they are struggling to get rapid responses from their energy supplier via email.

The average score in Citizens Advice's Q1 2022 research was 2.8 out of 5, with the best supplier only recording a score of 3.6.

citizens advice sign
Credit: Ben Molyneux/

Slipping standards

Citizens Advice publishes quarterly research on energy customer service, focusing on areas including the number of complaints a supplier has received and how long they take to answer the phone when a customer calls.

Their previous round of research looking at Q4 2021 saw customer service standards plummet, yet these have fallen further in the latest data looking at Q1 2022.

Between January and March 2022, the average score across the sector was just 2.8 out of 5, the lowest figure Citizens Advice has recorded since launching their research at the end of 2016.

Citizens Advice also noted that:

  • Customers are waiting an average of six and a half minutes to speak to their energy supplier, up from around four minutes last year.
  • Suppliers responded to 62% of emails within two working days, down from 66% during the same period in 2021

The charity received almost 71,000 contacts to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service about energy problems in Q1, a 63% increase on the same quarter last year.

Best and worst

The best ranked energy provider in Q1 was EDF Energy with a score of 3.60, although this was a decrease of 0.25 points compared to the previous quarter.

Here's the top five:

  • EDF Energy - 3.60
  • Outfox the Market - 3.25
  • Bulb Energy - 3.20
  • Affect Energy - 3.15
  • Co-operative Energy - 3.15

Of these, only Outfox the Market increased their score from quarter-to-quarter, and we saw M&S Energy drop to ninth after topping the table in Q4.

At the other end of the table were two big names and several smaller suppliers:

  • Utilita - 1.60
  • OVO Energy - 2.10
  • Ecotricity - 2.30
  • E.ON Energy - 2.40
  • Boost Power - 2.44

Apart from E.ON Energy, all these suppliers were in the bottom five last time around too.

E.ON have seen their score drop by 0.5 points to push them down the table while Utilita and OVO Energy also experienced further drops in standards.

Looming crisis

Citizens Advice expressed concern about the fact that customer service standards are plummeting just at the time when customers badly need the support of their energy suppliers.

With the energy price cap expected to rise to as high as £2,800 in October 2022, charities are warning the support measures put in place by the Government may not be enough to help struggling households.

Citizens Advice is particularly worried about customers on prepayment meters who may not be able to top up their accounts when energy become too expensive and will be left without gas or electricity.

The charity has been warning of an autumn crisis for several months and, while suppliers are required to help customers who are struggling with their bills, high call waiting times and difficulties getting a response could seriously hamper these efforts.

We've got more information on the help available in 2022 for energy customers to pay their bills or read about the schemes to help vulnerable customers over the winter.


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