Scottish Power’s helpline, which used to open between 8am and 8pm, is now only available between 8.30am and 7pm. However, Keith Anderson, the firm’s chief executive, told MPs that the firm received 8,000 calls in one week alone from people worried about paying their energy bills. He added that customers were expressing “a huge amount of anxiety”.
EDF’s call centre was previously open between 8am and 8pm, but is now only contactable between 8am and 6pm.
Martyn James, of Resolver, said: “Almost every complaint mentions contact problems. We are really concerned that people are simply giving up when trying to contact their supplier, which will make the issues they are experiencing much worse down the line.”
British Gas, Octopus, and Ovo have kept their helpline opening hours the same as they were before the pandemic.
Customers unable to contact their supplier by phone are often left trying to get in touch via an online chat function. This method is not always reliable, however.
Last month major suppliers’ websites crashed amid a race to submit meter readings on the eve of the price cap increase. EDF Energy. British Gas, Eon and Octopus Energy all suffered website outages.
British Gas said it had experienced higher call volumes around April’s price rise and had temporarily extended its opening hours by one hour to 6pm.
This came after regulator Ofgem raised the energy price cap this month by 54pc, meaning the average household will now pay around £700 more a year for their gas and electricity.