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Customers benefit after record complaints, says Energy Advice Line

Energy suppliers hit by record numbers of complaints were finally being forced to offer customers a better deal, according to the Energy Advice Line.

Julian Morgan, managing director of the business energy price comparison and switching service, said recent initiatives including proposed shorter switching times were a direct response to widespread customer dissatisfaction.

But Mr Morgan called on suppliers to do more to rebuild consumer trust in the energy market, saying customers should not have to complain to get a decent standard of service.

“We welcome recent announcements that seem to indicate suppliers might finally recognize that the levels of service they’ve been offering is unacceptable,” Mr Morgan said.

“But they shouldn’t be waiting for customers to complain, or for OFGEM to force their hand. They need to make customers the focus of their business all of the time.

“Moves to make switching quicker and easier, as well as previously announced measures to make bills and pricing less complex, are good first steps in the right direction. But these measures should be just the beginning and hopefully will continue.”

Figures released this week revealed a record 1.7 million complaints were lodged against the Big Six energy suppliers in the first half of the year, up 15% on the same period last year.

Most of the grievances involved inaccurate estimated electricity and gas bills, with Npower recording the highest level of complaints at 83 objections per 1000 customers. EDF recorded 46, e·on 33, British Gas 31, SSE 28, and Scottish Power 14.

At the same time, suppliers have agreed in-principle to introduce changes to enable customers to switch energy supplier within three days. The changes should be in place by the end of the year, with next-day switching to be introduced by 2018.

Mr Morgan welcomed the measures to make switching quicker, but added: “The switching process needs to be seamless and we hope suppliers ensure they are absolutely capable of doing this.

“When customers switch supplier they don’t want the process to be bungled in the rush to get it done quickly.

“We would also like to see this initiative offered to business energy users, as well as domestic customers.

“OFGEM needs to ensure that speedier switching is introduced properly, and to all consumers, not just householders.”

The Energy Advice Line is one of the UK’s leading price comparison and switching services for business and domestic energy customers. It is also an advocate for energy market reform and has campaigned for a better deal for energy users, including calling for a ban on cold calling and changes to regulations to make it easier for all consumers to switch suppliers.

The service is completely independent and free. Consumers can quickly and simply search the market for the best available energy deals from an extensive panel of small and large energy suppliers. The service also offers a free advice service for business energy customers throughout the to of their energy contracts.

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