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Customer service standards from UK energy suppliers have fallen to their worst levels since 2017, coinciding with soaring bills, according to Citizens Advice.

Days after households were hit with a record rise in energy bills after the regulator lifted the price cap, the charity said its research found a drop in customer service across the board, many people facing long waits on the phone or for an answer to an email.

Citizens Advice’s latest star rating chart covers customer service between October 1 and December 31, 2021, when more than a dozen providers collapsed, including Bulb Energy, Pure Planet and Orbit Energy.

In recent days, many of the biggest energy companies have come under fire after their websites crashed as customers rushed to submit meter readings before the April 1 price hike took effect.

Citizens Advice said that despite the backdrop of collapsing providers, it fears its data is ‘part of a downward trend in standards at a time ‘when people are particularly in need’ of support from their companies. energy to meet record bills and cost of living”. crisis”. He added: “Customer service from energy suppliers is the worst it has been on average since 2017.”

According to the updated table, even the top performers now score less than four out of five stars. Until last year, the best supplier had always obtained more than four stars. He named the “worst performing” companies like Utilita, Boost, Ecotricity, Good Energy and Ovo. The lowest score among these fell to 1.7 from 2.1 in the previous quarter.

A major driver of the low scores was increased call wait times, Citizens Advice said. The average call wait time is now over five minutes, up from around four minutes during the same period in 2020, although some providers’ customers are facing wait times of around 15 minutes. Email response times have also deteriorated slightly.

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According to the latest ratings, the highest score is now 3.85 out of five. The top five suppliers are M&S Energy, EDF, Octopus Energy, Affect Energy and So Energy.

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: ‘The drop in customer service standards comes at the worst possible time.

She added: “It’s Ofgem’s job to make sure businesses provide a good service. But the current system is not working.

The charity benchmarks supplier customer service by looking at information from a number of sources, including complaints, billing and switching data.

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