The quality of service offered by UK feed-in tariff supplies varies enormously, with the smaller, specialist companies coming out on top.

These are the findings from the latest YouGen research, conducted in August this year. The renewable energy website asked about the level of service received from the UK’s top 12 feed-in tariff suppliers, who are currently paying out for energy generated by solar panels, hydro systems and wind turbines.

YouGen found that 62 percent of respondents are happy with the service they receive, rating it as good (26 percent) or excellent (36 percent). Good Energy, Ecotricity, Green Energy and Warehouse scored the highest of the 12, with “excellent” ratings from the majority of their customers.

However, while the majority of the respondents said they were satisfied with the service they receive, 37 percent of E.ON’s customers declared that its service was poor, with 34 percent of the 72 percent that responded saying it was diabolical. In fact two thirds of the people who rated their feed-in tariff supplier diabolical are E.ON customers.

“I’m still waiting for confirmation of my registration, five months after submitting it,” one consumer wrote.

Another said: “It took nine months to get the first payment and then only after I took the matter to the regulator. They lost my registration, gave me a wrong FiT number and kept saying they would sort it out but never did.”

“E.ON has taken months to make payments and blame their updating of their systems. This has been going on for many, many months and they are using this as an excuse for poor service. As someone who spent over £12,000 on a solar system from E.ON I don’t expect to wait months for payments,” continued another respondent.

The main reasons cited by E.ON’s customers for their ratings were that the provider is slow to pay (86 percent), it doesn’t communicate when there is a delay (67 percent) and that registration took a long time. Other complaints included that staff were unable to answer queries quickly or effectively and that E.ON was generally difficult to get through to on the phone.

YouGen also asked survey respondents about what they believe to be the key components of good customer service from a feed-in tariff supplier, finding that 81 percent agreed a response to email to be vital while 78 percent believe that having knowledgeable staff is key. A total of 70 percent said that prompt payment terms are important.

“This is the most fascinating bit of the findings,” explained YouGen Founder, Cathy Debenham. “We regularly get complaints about how long FiTs suppliers take to pay, and the above answer indicates that it is important. Yet, the survey results reveal that most respondents don’t actually know what their payment terms are.

“Just three of E.ON’s customers said that payments exactly met its terms, compared to 82 percent who say they were slower. However, when asked how many weeks after the deadline for reading the meter does your FIT supplier pay you?, those three people all gave a different answer (six, seven and eight weeks respectively). The range of when they say they were paid goes from two weeks to 12+.

“There is also a disparity among Good Energy’s customers. 92 percent of people say payments met its terms, yet again stated payment time ranges from two weeks to 12+. This is surprising as the company pays 10 weeks after the meter reading, and communicates the dates clearly to customers. These disparities lead me to believe that, although people complain a lot about slow payment, it isn’t actually the defining aspect of service that influences how people rate a FiT supplier. E.ON and other low scoring companies need to concentrate on the basics: knowledgeable staff and a prompt response.”

YouGen also advises those who are dissatisfied with the service they receive to switch feed-in tariff suppliers, as consumers do not have to use the energy company that they buy electricity from.