A new energy complaints league table for small businesses has named Extra Energy as the worst performer, mainly for sending out large catch-up bills after lengthy delays and demanding quick payment.
Citizens Advice said E.ON had delivered the best performance in its first quarterly table to allow small businesses to compare how well suppliers are handling their complaints.
It follows the charity’s established quarterly complaints league table for household energy customers launched in 2012.
E.ON’s complaints ratio of 21.1 per 10,000 customers compares with the 1225.4 per 10,000 received by Extra Energy.
SSE was the second-best performer with a ratio of 29 per 10,000 customers.
Common problems reported by Extra Energy business customers included not being charged for long periods and then receiving large catch-up bills – in many cases followed by swift action by the company to recover debts with little regard for billing errors or customers’ ability to repay.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Small businesses are a linchpin of the UK economy and it’s vital they have the support they need to thrive.
“Small business owners depend on the smooth running of essential services such as gas and electricity to run and grow their firms.
“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.”
Business Minister Margot James said: “There are more than a million businesses across Britain with fewer than 10 staff making a great contribution to our growing economy. All businesses need energy and deserve to have their complaints taken seriously by suppliers if things go wrong.
“This new tool from Citizens Advice shines a light on bad practice and will help small business owners make informed decisions when choosing who to get their energy from.”
Ofgem also welcomed the new tool, saying: “It’s vital that small business customers can rely on their supplier to move quickly and effectively to sort problems out when things go wrong.
“This new table will shine a light on how suppliers deliver on complaints, empowering microbusiness customers to vote with their feet if they see companies aren’t up to scratch.”