Energy firms 'neglecting customers'

Rising energy bills and poor communication from suppliers have sent customer satisfaction levels plunging, research has found.

In its annual survey, research firm JD Power found that the average annual domestic gas bill rose 19% from £466.44 in 2007 to £554.04 this year, while electricity bills for the same period increased by 7% from £540.84 to £579.84.

Half of customers said they learned of price increases from the media this year, compared to 38% who found out from their supplier.

Among those who learned about rising bills from the media, 34% said they were likely to switch suppliers within the next 12 months.

JD Power spokesman Caspar Tearle said: "Consumers are being strongly affected by price increases in 2008 as utility costs are accounting for a larger proportion of monthly household budgets, and this has had a noticeable impact on satisfaction levels.

"However gas and electricity suppliers can help mitigate some of the negative effects of price increases by proactively communicating with customers."

The survey questioned 2,687 electricity customers and 2,650 gas customers and ranked Scottish and Southern Energy highest for customer satisfaction.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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