Scotland business

Scottish Power gets 'record number of complaints'

scottish power bill Image copyright PA

Scottish Power received the highest number of complaints ever recorded for a UK energy provider in a three-month period, according to figures from Citizens Advice.

For every 100,000 Scottish Power customers, more than 1,100 made a complaint in the final quarter of 2014.

In the year as a whole, complaints rose by 600% with problems caused by a new billing system believed to be a factor.

The company has apologised and said it is working hard to improve its service.

Scottish Power said it had recruited 700 new customer service advisers and is working closely with the regulator Ofgem on call waiting times, outstanding bills and ombudsman complaints.

Overall, the total number of complaints about the so-called Big Six energy providers increased by nearly 500% in 2014.

Spanish-owned Scottish Power was banned from proactive sales for 12 days in March after failing to meet customer service targets set by Ofgem.

The regulator found the firm had not made necessary improvements to respond to customer complaints.

Citizens Advice said its latest figures suggested complaints about Scottish Power were the result of its new billing system, which left some people not receiving a bill and others struggling to have their problems resolved.

SSE retained the top spot as the least complained-about company.

'Shocking customer service'

The figures also show that the number of complaints about SSE, British Gas, EDF Energy and Npower decreased.

Npower had been the most complained-about member of the Big Six for the first two quarters of 2014 but was overtaken in the final half of the year by Scottish Power.

However, while Npower had made improvements, it still received 599 complaints per 100,000 customers in the last quarter of last year, making it the second most complained-about company, the charity said.

Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Margaret Lynch said: "Trust in the energy market is at rock bottom among consumers in Scotland, so it's really disappointing to see that certain suppliers are under-performing.

"We saw a staggering increase in the number of Scottish Power issues brought to the Citizens Advice service last year. The league table reveals that complaints to the supplier increased almost six fold in 2014. This highlights a truly shocking level of customer service."

Neil Clitheroe, chief executive of Scottish Power retail and generation, said: "We apologise unreservedly to any customers who have experienced account issues.

"These statistics reflect service problems in the last six months of 2014, when we had our most challenging period following the introduction of a new £200m customer IT system.

"Recently our call answering times have been among the best in the industry and outstanding complaints have been reduced significantly. We remain fully committed to resolving outstanding issues and ensuring that no customers will be left out of pocket."

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