Energy companies are failing to improve their handling of customer complaints, Citizens Advice data shows.
Complaints about four of the big six – SSE, EDF, British Gas and npower – increased between the last quarter of last year and the first quarter of this year.
Scottish Power, by far the worst offender overall with 1,154 complaints per 100,000 customers in the first quarter, saw a slight drop from 1,163 on the end of last year.
SSE received the fewest complaints at 55.1 per 100,000 customers, but this was an increase on the previous quarter’s figure of 44.5.
The lack of improvement comes despite regulator Ofgem imposing sanctions on a number of firms for poor customer service.
Both Scottish Power and npower have been forced to provide free energy to thousands of customers between them after they failed to resolve complaints to the energy ombudsman on time.
Previous research from Citizens Advice has found that two-thirds of customer complaints are about billing issues.
Scottish Power became the worst performing supplier at the end of last year after introducing a new system which caused billing issues for many customers.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Energy firms have no excuse for continued poor service.
“The majority of complaints from customers are about their bills, from large back bills to incorrect bills, or even no bill at all. With billing a basic part of the service energy firms provide, it should be the simplest thing to get right.
“While Scottish Power and npower have taken steps to tackle their ongoing billing problems, which have caused a huge number of complaints, some customers are still finding it difficult to get their problem resolved.”
An SSE spokesman said: “At SSE we believe it is important to get things right first time and strive for early resolution when a customer is dissatisfied.
“Every complaint is one too many and we will continue working hard to reduce the overall number of complaints we receive in the future.”
A ScottishPower spokesman said: “The end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 was our most challenging period following the introduction of a new £200 million customer IT system.
“In the long-term this major investment will ensure that our customers can fully benefit from the upcoming rollout of smart meters, which will enable easier switching on to the best tariffs and put an end to estimated bills.
“During this period we were set tough improvement targets by Ofgem, and we recruited over 700 frontline customer service advisors. In recent months we have significantly reduced the number of complaints received, which will be reflected in future surveys.
“As of today we have the longest call centre opening hours in the industry and among the best call answering times. Our new customer service system has also allowed us to develop one of the most advanced online platforms in our sector.
“We are fully committed to continuing with our improvements and providing the best levels of customer service possible.”