London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — May 18, 2007 -British Gas has been voted as the U.K.’s worst energy supplier in a new consumer satisfaction survey by price comparison and switching website uSwitch.com.
Although overall customer satisfaction levels had increased to 60% from 52% in the past twelve months and British Gas’s customers recorded an 11% increase on last year’s performance, it remained the lowest in terms of satisfaction for the second year running – and despite 900,000 customers returning to its services following two price cuts earlier this year.
Scottish and Southern Energy emerged as the best supplier for the third year in a row with 70% of its customers stating that they were happy with the service the energy supplier provided.
ScottishPower, however, was the only supplier to witness a drop in its customer satisfaction levels, causing it to drop from second to fourth in the ratings.
Powergen was praised as the most improved supplier and was voted the third best overall supplier in this year’s poll, which surveyed 6,552 consumers, indicating that the heavy investment into its customer services was beginning to pay off.
According to Ann Robinson, consumer policy director at uSwitch.com, the results weren’t entirely unexpected. “Suppliers are not pushing the right buttons for consumers. Price cuts could have been a vote winner, but the small increase in customer satisfaction smacks of a missed opportunity,” she said.
In another recent study from the Centre for Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia, it was found that in general consumers were still paying too much for their energy bills, even those who had switched supplier, and indeed that of the approximately half of British households that had switched supplier a significant number were now paying higher bills.
The researchers blamed “consumer sluggishness” and “misplaced brand loyalty” for the switching behavior, and they suggested that switching does not address concerns of a tacit understanding among the suppliers to maintain profit margins at the expense of consumers across the industry.
Commenting on the results, Professor Stephen Davies, one of the report’s authors was quoted as saying: “Competition in the market relies on consumers switching suppliers, however, if half of customers are unprepared to move, this clearly has a big impact on pricing.”