En­ergy firms that keep you on hold for up to 20 min­utes

Daily Mail - - Little John - By James Sal­mon As­so­ciate City Ed­i­tor

MIL­LIONS of en­ergy cus­tomers are be­ing forced to wait on hold for more than 21 min­utes on av­er­age, say re­searchers.

Some frus­trated call­ers are even be­ing left hang­ing on for more than half an hour, ac­cord­ing to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Which?

The con­sumer group has named and shamed the power firms that are slow­est to pick up the phone.

It said Scot­tish Power – which has al­most five mil­lion cus­tomers all over the coun­try – was the worst of­fender, with call­ers left wait­ing an av­er­age of 21 min­utes and 24 sec­onds.

This was 20 min­utes slower than the fastest com­pany – fledg­ing power firm So En­ergy, which an­swered calls in just 38 sec­onds. Bulb En­ergy notched up the long­est sin­gle call wait­ing time of 41 min­utes and 48 sec­onds, and kept peo­ple wait­ing on hold for 19 min­utes and two sec­onds on av­er­age.

Which? pointed out that a cus­tomer liv­ing in Har­low, Es­sex, would be able to travel more quickly by train into Liver­pool

Street sta­tion, next to Bulb’s head­quar­ters in Lon­don, to make a com­plaint in per­son.

The firm has en­joyed me­te­oric growth, gain­ing a mil­lion cus­tomers and five per cent of the elec­tric­ity mar­ket in un­der five years. Only two years ago it was the fastest to an­swer calls.

Natalie Hitchins at Which? said: ‘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 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? made 432 calls to 36 en­ergy sup­pli­ers. Each provider was called 12 times at dif­fer­ent times of the day and on dif­fer­ent days of the week to cal­cu­late the av­er­age wait be­fore speak­ing to a mem­ber of staff. The av­er­age wait across the sur­vey was an un­ac­cept­able six min­utes and 50 sec­onds.

Scot­tish Power is the only one of the so-called ‘Big Six’ en­ergy firms to lan­guish near the bot­tom of the ta­ble. It ap­pears to mark a rapid drop in cus­tomer ser­vice at the firm, which was the fastest of the Big Six to pick up the phone when Which? did the same ex­er­cise last year. Then it av­er­aged three min­utes and 29 sec­onds. Just over a fifth of firms – Avro En­ergy, Boost, Bulb En­ergy, Engie, Green Network En­ergy, Utilita, Util­ity Point and Scot­tish Power – kept call­ers wait­ing more than ten min­utes on av­er­age.

Of the big firms, EDF was the quick­est to an­swer calls, at three min­utes and two sec­onds. Scot­tish Power may be slow to pick up the phone but it was one of only three firms to re­spond to live chat queries in un­der a minute on av­er­age. A 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.’

Bulb said: ‘Grow­ing quickly has brought chal­lenges.’

‘Save hun­dreds of pounds’

‘I’ve al­ready cast my postal vote in case we never get off this plat­form’ To or­der a print of this Paul Thomas car­toon or one by Pugh, visit Mailpic­tures.newsprints.co.uk or call 020 7566 0360.

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