Toto Energy has come bottom in the Citizens Advice league table for customer service, raising further concerns about the performance of small and newer energy suppliers.

The company received a score of 1.45 out of five stars for the period from April to June 2018. This is down from a score of 1.6 the previous quarter, when it placed second from bottom ahead of the now defunct Iresa.

Back then Iresa had more than 9,000 complaints per 100,000 customers – the worst-ever complaints score recorded by Citizens Advice. The company ceased trading in July. 

Iresa’s score was five times higher than Toto Energy which received 1,800 complaints. Toto was criticised earlier this year for transferring customers to Utilita Energy without adequate communication.

Citizens Advice says between April and June Toto’s customers reported problems such as not being able to contact the energy supplier and problems with billing.

One person said their direct debit was increased by more than £100, while another said they could not get through to the supplier to resolve their issue for over two weeks.

Citizens Advice says the data in its league table published today (4 October) backs up the complaints and shows that customers telephoning the supplier spent an average of 23 minutes on hold and that more than one in 10 customers had waited over a year for an accurate bill.

Jim Butler, Toto Energy’s chief executive, said the company has made “significant improvements” to its customer service in the three months since this latest Citizens Advice star rating was taken.

He said: “We promised to put measures in place to be better right across the business, and we’re confident they’re working.

“Call wait times have fallen by over 70 per cent to five minutes and customer complaints have reduced by over 45 per cent between the second and third quarter of 2018.

“I apologised to our customers for falling short of the standard they expect during this period and we will continue to work with our regulator, Ofgem and consumer organisations including Citizen’s Advice to ensure that our customers can be confident we’re heading in the right direction.”

Renewable energy supplier Solarplicity, which is appearing in the table for the first time, came second from bottom with a score of 1.8.

Citizens Advice has reignited its call for “tighter regulation”.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Too many customers are being let down by firms which aren’t ready or capable of providing a decent level of service. These aren’t small problems.

“Billing errors, blocking people from switching, and poor communications can cost customers money and make people’s lives a misery.

“Smaller companies at the top of the table show that size is no excuse for poor customer service.

“It’s vital that Ofgem now tackles the problem of newer and smaller firms letting people down and tightens up the rules around who can become an energy supplier.”

Ofgem will shortly consult on new proposals for granting licences to energy suppliers as well as the monitoring they should face after entering the market.

Other companies near the bottom of the table include Green Star Energy, Spark Energy and iSupply.

At the other end of the scale, So Energy came top of the class for the third consecutive quarter with a score of 4.7 stars. It was closely followed by mid-tier suppliers Bulb and Octopus Energy with 4.35 and 4.3 respectively.

Simon Oscroft, co-founder of So Energy, said: “There are many energy suppliers still failing customers in the UK but we’re really pleased to prove that we can consistently deliver outstanding service to those that have chosen So Energy.”

Big six suppliers British Gas and EDF Energy completed the top five in the league table.

Matthew Vickers, chief executive and chief ombudsman designate at the Energy Ombudsman, said: “We agree with Citizens Advice that the customer service and complaint handling performance of some smaller suppliers is concerning.

“However, as Ofgem’s recent complaints survey highlighted, this isn’t necessarily a small-versus-large supplier debate. Larger suppliers sometimes don’t serve consumers as well as they could, while there are some great examples of good customer service from small and medium-sized suppliers.

“In our view, it’s vital that any small supplier with ambitious growth plans has the resources and infrastructure in place to ensure customer service levels are maintained – and that any complaints are dealt with swiftly and effectively.”

Supplier Star rating April to June 2018
So Energy 4.7
Bulb Energy 4.35
Octopus Energy 4.3
British Gas 4.25
EDF Energy 4.05
Green Network Energy 4.05
SSE 3.95
Tonik Energy 3.95
Bristol Energy 3.85
Utility Warehouse 3.8
Engie 3.75
E (Gas and Electricity) 3.75
Scottish Power 3.65
First Utility 3.6
Ovo Energy 3.45
Ecotricity 3.4
Npower 3.4
Eon 3.15
Good Energy 3
Co-operative Energy 3
Utilita 2.75
Extra Energy 2.7
Avro Energy 2.55
Robin Hood Energy 2.55
Flow Energy 2.55
Together 2.5
PFP Energy 2.4
Economy Energy 2.3
iSupply 2.15
Spark Energy 2.1
Green Star Energy 2.1
Solarplicity 1.8
Toto Energy 1.45

 

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