Procurement · 20 January 2017

Small business energy complaints: The best and worst suppliers

Energy complaints
The league table aims to support small business owners in making an informed decision before signing up to an energy provider

Energy supplier Extra Energy has been ranked the worst provider for a small firm, according to a new Citizens Advice energy complaints league table for small business customers.

Citizens Advice launched a domestic version of the league table in 2012, publishing results every quarter to hold the UK’s 15 largest energy suppliers to account.

Aiming to support small business customers, the new league table is drawn from the complaints of micro companies employing ten staff or fewer with turnover under £1.7m, allowing owners to compare services.

The driving factor of Extra Energy’s poor performance was the consistent sending of pricey catch-up bills after a long delay, with demands for prompt payment. Business customers reported that little sympathy or recognition of error was offered by the supplier, which in many cases took quick action to recover debts.

According to Citzens Advice, E.ON was the most popular supplier among its small business customers. The league table calculated a ratio of 21.1 energy complaints per 10,000 customers. By comparison, Extra Energy received 1225.4 from the same number.

Commenting on the nature of energy complaints made by small business owners to suppliers, Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy highlighted potential costs to a firm.

“If things go wrong with energy suppliers, it can cause delays and financial stress, so it’s crucial that problems are sorted out swiftly and effectively,” she said in a statement.

Guy stated that the league table would support small business owners in making an informed decision before signing up.

“Small businesses are a linchpin of the UK economy and it’s vital they have the support they need to thrive,” she added.

“Small business owners depend on the smooth running of essential services such as gas and electricity to run and grow their firms.”

Margot James, the government’s small business minister, also spoke out in support of small business owners receiving a poor deal, increasing the pressure on energy suppliers.

“There are more than a million businesses across Britain with fewer than ten staff making a great contribution to our growing economy. All businesses need energy and deserve to have complaints taken seriously by suppliers if things go wrong.”

Courtesty of Citizens Advice, below is the league table of suppliers based on the energy complaints of small business owners.

July – September 2016 Rank Supplier July – September 2016 Ratio
1 E.ON Energy 21.1
2 SSE 29.0
3 CNG 34.2
4 Utility Warehouse 59.4
5 EDF Energy 68.9
6 Total Gas and Power 74.7
7 British Gas Business 93.2
8 Opus Energy 95.6
9 Dual Energy 96.2
10 Gazprom 110.0
11 Haven Power 111.8
12 Scottish Power 152.3
13 Npower 169.2
14 Business Energy Solutions (BES) 411.4
15 Extra Energy 1225.4

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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