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Are landlords and tenants paying too much for utilities?

A new report shows a growing difference in customer service levels between the best and worst energy suppliers in Britain - meaning landlords and tenants could be paying too much.

The Citizens Advice charity says inaccurate bills are an all-too-common problem for customers of suppliers ranked in the bottom five of the star rating table. 

Customers of these companies are five times more likely to get an inaccurate bill from their supplier than customers of the top five suppliers.

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The star rating table for January to March 2021 reveals suppliers in the bottom five failed to provide an accurate bill for 15 per cent of their customers, compared to less than three per cent for those in the top five.

The borrow five energy supply firms are named by the charity as Utilita, Ecotricity, Symbio, People’s Energy, and Orbit.

The top five are named as Igloo, Outfox The Market, M&S Energy, E (Gas & Electricity), and Octopus. 

Citizens Advice is warning that suppliers are failing in their most basic obligation to customers as it calls on them to provide accurate bills for customers. The charity is also urging suppliers to protect those at the highest risk of debt by offering tailored and flexible repayment options.

The stress created by billing errors is compounded by poor customer service, which leaves landlords, tenants and others struggling to contact their suppliers to resolve issues.

The star rating table reveals a wide gap in the quality of customer service offered by suppliers in the top five compared to suppliers in the bottom five.

 

 

The worst suppliers only respond to 35 per cent of their customers’ emails within two working days, compared to 86 per cent for the best suppliers.

People with the worst suppliers wait on the phone for more than six minutes on average - that’s 3.5 times longer than those with suppliers in the top five.

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

  • George Dawes

    I recall a few years ago British Gas sent me a letter threatening to sue me unless I paid £2,000 , the fact I didn't use British Gas as a company seemed to escape them . It was for the property next door that was being renovated .

    No apologies , nothing . I rest my case

    I've used Npower , Eon and Bulb for my properties and so far they've all been very efficient

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    I have tenants who opt for E7 tariffs when they don't have storage heaters or standard tariffs when they do! Generally they are so un-proactive (is that a word?) that they consistently over pay for utilities and stay with expensive suppliers so I agree that many pay too much.

    Then there are those who don't register with a utility company or simply do not pay!

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    I have found SSE and Npower are OK to deal with and Scottish Power and Eon at the bottom of the table for service culture and standard and quality of billing!!

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    The more lazy people there are who don't shop around, the cheaper it will be for those who do.

    I'm quite happy to see any company screw the lazy and willing if it means a better deal for the alert and unwilling.

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    I'm always surprised by the tariffs tenants choose. Very few seem to change supplier or switch to a new deal when the original one runs out. Some refuse to use direct debits and often end up paying about £300 more than they could. The few who do change supplier often go with one they have used previously regardless of how much they charge.

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    I was very unhappy when the capped energy tariffs were introduced in an attempt to protect the indolent but it still seems possible to save around £300 with 30 minutes effort, so the lazy are still paying through the nose and subsidising the alert and sensible consumers.

    However the do gooders are now focusing on insurance companies and threatening the savings which sensible drivers and property owners can make by shopping around. Why won't they let market forces and the survival of the fittest principles prevail?

    Levelling up is impossible and levelling down is the most likely outcome of any attempt to do so.

    By definition around half the population will be below average unless everyone is exactly average. How does striving to be average help the economy or the country prosper?

     
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    Scottish Power could not manage a proverbial in a brewery. I have a recently converted student HMO and the bills are included in the rent. Obviously I need to keep a tight grip on this especially in the first year whilst I'm getting a feel for what is reasonable consumption. Getting an "actuals" bill out of Scottish Power is like getting blood out of a stone. They even sent me a bill that said "customer supplied reading" with a reading that was much lower than the reading I gave them. As for paying bills, the text reminder always comes on a Saturday evening when the payment line is closed, and the online system that they direct you to showed a former closed account and not the current one, and despite numerous complaints this was never resolved. Their helpline person even bizarrely offered to send an engineer round to see if they could help. Then one day they rang out of the blue to offer me a smart meter. Yes! The answer to my prayers. We agreed a date and a time and I drove the 200 or so miles to meet the engineer. I even rang them a few days before to check that he was definitely coming. "Yes" they said. Did he turn up? Of course not. "Appointment not on our system" they said. Let's see if Octopus can do better.

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