A NEW low in customer ­satisfaction with gas and electricity suppliers has revealed "the failings of a broken energy market", according to consumer group Which?

The watchdog's latest annual energy company survey found the overall customer satisfaction score had dropped from 49% last year to 41%.

The score is one of the lowest recorded by Which? from all of its satisfaction surveys across a range of products and sectors.

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The group said the survey exposed a market "that is falling short of its customers' needs" as satisfaction plummeted and the biggest companies fared worse than smaller suppliers.

The six largest firms, which account for more than 90% of the market, ranked bottom of the table, with Npower scoring the lowest for the third year running with 31%.

British Gas scored 39%, below SSE and Scottish Power on 41%, EDF Energy (44%) and E.On (45%).

British Gas and Npower both fell below the industry average of 41% in this survey.

Wiltshire-based Good Energy held the top spot for the third year running, sharing it with G­loucestershire-based Ecotricity, with both ­scoring 82%.

All of the firms that appeared on the table last year scored lower, except for Ecotricity and First Utility which rose from 80% to 82% and 50% to 58% respectively.

The statistics show energy prices are the top worry for 84% of consumers, while just 20% trust suppliers to act in their best interests. Some 60% of consumers said they were already dreading the cost of their winter energy bill.

Which? executive director ­[Richard Lloyd said: "Once again the biggest energy companies have been beaten by the smaller suppliers but there are no winners in a broken market that consistently fails consumers.

"Our findings highlight why it's vital that Ofgem's first annual review of competition clearly identifies why the market is failing and what needs to change."

Npower's director of domestic retail business, Roger Hattam, said: "We know we've let many of our customers down following recent issues with our new billing system but it's still disappointing to see these results. While we still have a long way to go, we are making progress."

Shadow energy and climate change secretary Caroline Flint said: "Under David Cameron people are paying more than ever for their gas and electricity, but all too often the customer service they receive is not good enough."

A spokesman for trade ­association Energy UK said: "Major change is under way in the industry and will ensure dealing well with customers is at the heart of what our members do.

"Around one million people shopped around for a new energy deal or provider in November and December proving there are good offers out there and that the market is dynamic and working well for consumers."

Which? surveyed 8525 UK energy bill-paying adults in October and November. Each supplier receives a customer score based on their overall satisfaction and the likelihood that they would recommend it to a friend.