Energy is something we use on a daily basis, but not something we often discuss. Are you getting the best value for money from your energy supplier? Are you aware of smaller, independent brands on the market? Have you done your research into why your electricity bill is alarmingly high or do you simply accept and pay it?
Energy comparison website, Simply Switch, commissioned a survey of nearly 1,500 British dual fuel customers to find out how satisfied they were with the service, and to compare energy rates across the six biggest suppliers in the UK. And the outcome seems to be a triumph for smaller, more independent service providers. Out of ten suppliers reviewed, the top three all fall into this category, with the bottom six being occupied by the ‘big six’.
However, the survey found that despite the likes of British Gas; SSE; E.ON; Scottish Power; EDF; and – the very lowest ranking in terms of satisfaction – npower, all ranking at the bottom of the league, they collectively have 67% of all UK customers!
But these unhappy customers seem to be sticking to their suppliers despite their low rankings, meaning they’re also losing money in the process. This is because most fixed rate energy deals will last for between 12 and 18 months. After this period, customers are automatically switched onto a standard variable tariff (SVT). These are invariably the most expensive tariffs available, so switching before this happens will save cash. However, the survey also found that 62% (equivalent to 11.9 million households) hadn’t switched their energy supplier in the last 18 months, whilst 15% had never switched suppliers before.
Simply Switch also discovered that just 41% of respondents had a smart meter installed. Suppliers to customers with the most smart meters were British Gas (54%) and Ovo (52%), whilst smaller suppliers like Octopus (24%) and Bulb (14%) had the fewest. Interestingly, it was these independent suppliers, however, who fared best when ranked by their customers.
Respondents were asked to rank their energy supplier out of 10 in the following categories:
- Value for money
- Customer service & communications
- Complaints handling
- Bill accuracy
Simply Switch also asked whether or not respondents would recommend their supplier to a friend or family member. Out of 10 suppliers, Octopus Energy emerged victorious at number one with a score of 8.59, based on an aggregated ranking across all four categories. Bulb came in second with a score of 8.37. The big six all filled up the bottom half of the table, with npower scoring the lowest – a very poor 6.44.
Over 90% of both Bulb and Octopus’ customers said they would recommend them to a friend, whilst just 60% of npower, and 67% of EDF customers said they would endorse their supplier:
‘Having recently moved house, we found that we were signed up with npower for our gas and electric,’ says Ruth Jardine, a satisfied Bulb customer. ‘Initially we agreed to stay with them, as they are a household name, however with a bit of research we found that for our location Bulb was in fact the far cheaper option! If I hadn’t spent a few minutes comparing our energy use and prices, we’d be paying a fair bit more than we are!’
Despite this, 67% of survey respondents were signed up with a big six supplier. So shake off that winter sluggishness and embrace spring, along with lower energy bills and a higher customer satisfaction rating. Simply Switch has your back!
Mike Rowe, COO at Simply Switch, says: ‘It’s wonderful to see smaller suppliers like Bulb and Octopus demonstrating their commitment to providing their customers with a great service – the massive portion of their customers who’d recommend them to a friend is testament to this. Meanwhile, despite being ranked worse than their competitors on almost all counts, the big six still served 67% of the energy users we surveyed.
It’s unfortunate that such a large portion of energy users hadn’t switched their supplier in the last 18 months, given the savings that could be made, and given that a large portion are still with suppliers they wouldn’t recommend. A large number of these customers will now be on expensive standard variable tariffs, which should generally be avoided by anyone who wants to save money.’