Over 5000 members rate their energy company’s performance.

Electricity prices have risen again this year, adding to the pain of winter power bills. So it comes as little surprise that just 48 percent of members think energy companies are delivering value for money.

Overall satisfaction with the performance of energy companies has scarcely budged in our latest member survey. This year, 73 percent of members rated company performance as “good” or “very good” compared with 72 percent in 2013. Both years are down on 2012 when satisfaction reached 78 percent.

Top rated

Some companies have scored significantly better than others. Become a Gold or Silver member to find out more.

Last place

Two companies shared last placing, both receiving a satisfaction score of 65 percent.

Become a Gold or Silver member to find out more.

Important attributes

This year, we asked members to rate the attributes they thought were important in an energy provider and to tell us how well the companies measured up.

Billing was a key issue: 96 percent rated accurate bills as either important or very important. Most members (80 percent) were satisfied with their provider’s performance on this measure. Most (82 percent) were also satisfied their bills were easy to understand; and that there were convenient payment methods available (91 percent).

But there were marked shortfalls in the companies’ performance on other measures.

Become a Gold or Silver member to find out more.

The energy sector

For the first time in our annual survey we asked members for their views on the energy sector in general.

Just over two-thirds (67 percent) told us they agreed or strongly agreed that “the whole energy supplier picture is too confusing”.

Some flagged the array of plans as a problem, making it difficult for them to choose the best option. Just 49 percent were satisfied that companies explained the various options; only 54 percent were satisfied companies helped them to select the best plan for their energy use.

One member commented: “Not sure if the new plan they are offering you is better than the one you already have.” Another remarked: “The electricity industry needs to agree on a common format for presenting bills and plans so customers can easily work out where to get best value for money.”

Pricing was also raised as an issue – as it has been in previous surveys.

63 percent of members agreed that it paid to shop around as some providers offered better deals than others. However, over half (57 percent) thought companies’ prices were too high overall. Just 14 percent agreed that “energy companies charge households fairly”.

Some were frustrated that companies only dropped prices when customers intended to switch: “I tried to switch because of cost. Immediately [my current provider] rang up and offered me a very good deal which I accepted BUT they could have offered that in the beginning!”

When price rises were announced, some members felt companies failed to adequately explain the reasons for them. One commented: “[They] do not provide clear justification for electricity price increases, they just state that it is costs which drive up prices.”

Another member observed: “At the end of the day, it should be a simple equation of volume of energy used for a fair price.”

Survey respondents aren’t alone in questioning the transparency of prices.

The Electricity Authority is proposing changes that may finally require retailers to disclose the reasons for price hikes.

Survey results

Our survey took place in June 2014: 5170 Consumer members participated. The survey asked members to rate their satisfaction with their energy provider (electricity or gas). The majority of respondents who had reticulated gas had the same provider for electricity.