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Energy firm customers kept on hold for more than half an hour

Domestic energy customers in the UK are sometimes being kept on hold for more that half an hour on the phone before finally gaining access to staff, according the latest research by Which? 03 December, 2019

Domestic energy customers in the UK are sometimes being kept on hold for more that half an hour on the phone before finally gaining access to staff, according the latest research by Which?

The consumer campaigner also found that around a fifth of utility firms typically took more than 10 minutes to pick up customer calls, saying that the variation in waiting times and lack of consistency on customer service, was "unacceptable" and urged households to consider value for money and customer service when seeking out suppliers.

Which? said it made 432 calls to 36 energy suppliers to find out how long customers were left on the line before speaking to a staff member.

On some occasions, it took more than 30 minutes for calls to be answered, the consumer group's snapshot investigation found.

Which? said each energy provider was called 12 times throughout the day and on different days of the week, to calculate the average customer call waiting time.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: "Energy customers should be able to expect good customer service from their supplier, so it is unacceptable that some people are facing waits of half an hour or more just to speak with an adviser.

"If you are tired of poor customer service and wasted time on the phone, then you should switch to a provider that can better meet your needs, and potentially save you hundreds of pounds."

Which?'s investigation found that ScottishPower left customers waiting for an average of 21 minutes and 24 seconds before calls were answered.

ScottishPower's efforts came in at 20 minutes slower than the fastest company in its research - So Energy - which answered calls in just 38 seconds.

ScottishPower had been the fastest of the Big Six providers last year according to Which?

A ScottishPower spokesman said: "Nobody wants to be at the bottom of this type of list and we're already working hard to regain our top spot."

This year, EDF Energy was the best of the Big Six, answering calls in three minutes and two seconds on average.

The consumer group also found that 'challenger' brand Bulb Energy kept customers on hold for an average of 19 minutes and two seconds before calls were answered, and had the longest single call waiting time of 41 minutes and 48 seconds in its research.

Around a fifth of suppliers included in the research - Avro Energy, Boost, Bulb Energy, Engie, Green Network Energy, Utilita, Utility Point and Scottish Power - kept customers waiting for more than 10 minutes on average.

Twelve of the companies Which? investigated also offered a live chat online for customers to seek help.

The UK's largest energy supplier British Gas was the slowest company to respond to live chat queries - with an average wait of seven minutes and 14 seconds, but the energy giant fared better on the phone, answering calls in four minutes and 19 seconds on average.

Spark Energy was the fastest to respond via live chat, taking just 30 seconds on average.

When choosing an energy provider, Which? recommends customers consider all factors including value for money and customer service.

The five energy firms with the fastest average response times:

1. So Energy, 38 seconds

2. Together Energy, 41 seconds

3. Flow Energy, 45 seconds

4. Ebico, 50 seconds

5. Ampower, 57 seconds

The five slowest average response times:

1. ScottishPower, 21 minutes 24 seconds

2. Bulb Energy, 19 minutes two seconds

3. Utility Point, 18 minutes five seconds

4. Boost, 17 minutes 35 seconds

5. Utilita, 15 minutes 44 seconds

Source: Which?

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