Your view: are you happy with your energy supplier?

by , Campaigns Team Energy & Home 25 January 2013
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This week, we’re discussing whether or not you’re happy with your energy supplier. We’ve had the results of our annual satisfaction survey, but did the results surprise you? And who will get our Comment of the Week?

Happy and sad switch

Although Npower came bottom of the table, Derek reported he’d experienced some good customer service from the company:

‘I have been with Npower for more than four years as all the comparisons regularly show me that it offers competitive tariffs for my usage. When I have phoned them I have always got a rapid response and my requests have been implemented faultlessly. My only complaint is the number of tariffs and the rapid changes in them, but that goes for most other providers as well.’

However, Wendy doesn’t share quite the same experience:

‘I certainly don’t share your experience of Npower. I had solar panels fitted in July and they seem to have messed up at every stage of the FIT process, as I’ve had to chase them at least a dozen times overall.’

Direct debit problems

Direct debit issues came up in reference to a whole range of suppliers. JBS had problems with OVO Energy:

‘I switched to OVO as I wanted to give a smaller company a chance, but they keep trying to raise my Direct Debit to way above the level needed. The first time they did it, I refused, complained and they stopped. I renewed and not long after, they tried to raise it to a level that, by their own admission, would leave me hundreds in credit for my power!’

Stephen O’Malley had a similar experience with EDF Energy:

‘I myself am with EDF and sadly they are exactly the same. They tell us they don’t want us to be paying sums that leave us with large amounts of credit in our accounts, and then a few months later start to insist that you raise them again.’

Switching energy providers

And we’ve some switchers in the crowd. Aliceada told us:

‘I took part in the Big Switch and swapped to Co-op Energy, the switch was done very quickly and I had no problems with either SSE (my previous supplier) or Co-op. The savings quoted seem to be on course but I won’t know for sure until the end of the year. Very happy so far.’

And Joyce Lomax has been inspired to switch other utilities:

‘I switched to M&S Energy for electricity and gas a year ago and was happy so also switched to them for phone also. Happy up to now.’

But one of the secrets to being able to switch with ease is simple energy tariffs. A point that Ant picked up in his comment:

‘A simple way to compare is what we all need and is what the government should have insisted on.’

Don’t worry Ant, we’re with you on that. We’re lobbying the government for a single unit price – so energy prices can be easily compared at a glance allowing people to find the cheapest deal.

Congratulations Ant – you’re this week’s Comment of the Week and will be featured on the Which? Convo homepage! What do you think of your energy supplier? Did they do better or worse than you expected in our satisfaction survey?

18 comments

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rlind

Your energy comparison database showed iSupplyEnergy as the cheapest option and I have changed to them. However it does not appear on your latest report. Why is this?

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nick davies

I’m with the Co-op and have no complaints at all. Price and service are fine and when we moved to it a couple of years ago the process was seamless. The pleading calls from Scottish trying to regain a lost customer dried up after a while.

I am far more comfortable with the thought that it is run for the members’/customers’ benefit than to line the pockets of city fat cats. Even if it is a bit dearer than the cheapest offers out there I’m not going anywhere.

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Ian

Which seems to keep on about energy suppliers customer service, but I feel that this is not the real problem. I feel that they are all much the same – pretty much OK except for trying to keep customers in credit. The real problem to me is the constant increase in prices across all companies, which has partly been caused by our governments not having an effective energy policy, leading the design and building of a range of new power stations (wind; wave; solar coal; & nuclear) which should have been built in time.

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Peter

My experience with OVO has been good. Each year I renewed for a fixed price which seems to have remained competitive. I went abroad for 6 months which resulted in several hundred pounds credit accruing on my statements but OVO paid 3% interest on this, which is more than my savings accounts pay, so I am quite happy.

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John

I’m rather upset by your customer satisfaction findings. I joined the Big Switch campaign and, as a result, you advised me that First Utility offered me the best deal (better than the Co-op). I switched to First Utility but now see that they do badly in this survey. Does this mean I should switch again? I would welcome your advice.

Personally, I’m with EDF Energy. At the time, I chose them because they had the cheapest fixed-price tariff. I have to admit, I knew that their reputation was less than stellar for customer service, but decided to switch to them for the good rates.

Generally, their service has been okay. However, in my previous property, I was also with EDF Energy and I had a few more problems. Mostly notably, after a summer where we (understandably) used almost no gas on account of the warm weather, we had our direct debit reduced from around £35 a month for gas to £9 a month. I rang them and told them this obviously wouldn’t work out in the long term, but they didn’t change it. Predictably, when we moved out of the property, we were then in debt to them and had to pay up more than £200 at a time when we really would rather not have!

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Esther

I agree with John. I was very taken aback to see that EDF, the company I was recommended to switch to, is near the bottom of the table. How is this possible? I too would like to know if I should switch again.

Hi John and Esther. On our Which? Switch service, we tell customers every company’s customer service star rating on the results page before they switch. However, with the Big Switch, our focus was on getting customers the cheapest deal for them within the fairness criteria of the auction (no exit fees over £60, no tariffs where discounts are only paid after a year with the supplier). Therefore, this is what determined the tariffs we showed to individual customers.

The aim of the Big Switch campaign was to save everyone the most money we could – so unlike our usual switching service, we didn’t show the full range of the market or the customer satisfaction info in the way we usually do. But you bring up a good point, and we’ll consider this if we undertake any collective switching in the future.

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John

Hi Jennifer. Your explanation is very much as I expected and I do understand what you’re saying. In fact, I’m perfectly happy with the service I’m receiving from First Utility. Costs seem OK but are hard for me to compare as I moved house a year ago so I’m comparing two properties (the previous one with a 30 year old gas boiler!) as well as two suppliers. I’ll keep an eye on costs and maybe look at a switch later this year. Keep up your excellent work!

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wavechange

I signed up to receive an offer under a Ready to Switch scheme and have now received the following information:

AUCTION RESULTS 29 JANUARY
Here are the results of our people-powered bid to get cheaper gas and electricity prices.
Ovo Energy, Co-operative Energy and ScottishPower have come forward as the winners of the auction.
ScottishPower has won all dual fuel and prepayment categories.
Ovo Energy has won the online billing category for elec-only contracts.
Co-operative Energy has won the paper billing category for elec-only contracts.
The overall average savings per household are a magnificent £122 a year.
In less than a week we will send out the personal proposals with an estimate of how much each household can save by switching.

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John Ward

Wavechange

I saw your post about the Ready to Switch scheme on the “Energy switching – spending time to save money” Conversation and was looking forward to seeing the outcome. This is an interesting result. I would not have expected Scottish Power to come out on top. The annual “overall average savings per household” looks good and worth taking advantage of if the individual circumstances align.

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wavechange

Thanks John. The frequent mention of energy cost on Which? Conversation prompted me to do something. The only time I switched supplier was many years ago.

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John

Decided to switch from current supplier, Scottish Power, in November 2012, to Spark Energy, appropriate l thought considering my name! l used Which? to get the best deal and proceeded to submit meter readings and received a confirmation letter from Spark Energy on the 28th. November informing me that l needed to do nothing more, with the whole process taking 4-6 weeks to complete. On the 25th. January l received an e-mail informing me that my gas is what is known as an IGT(Independant gas Transporter) and they could not support supplying this to me! Almost two months to tell me that! Now l have to start all over again, after being told how easy it is to switch supplier!
John

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stanley

Looking at the energy providers shown in the last issue of Which?. The top six who provide some 90% of the market, the difference in cost between the dearest and cheapest is around 40p per week. Am I missing something? I thought privatization supposed to bring competition

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Alan

People should check out some of the smaller suppliers such as Co-op Energy, whose profits are split back with their customers in the form of credits.

So instead of making millions off us and sharing the money with shareholders, like the Big Six do, Co-op rewards their customers instead – which I think is bloody brilliant.

I think everyone should consider the smaller suppliers more, that way the Big Six wouldn’t have such a stranglehold on the market, running it like some sort of Cartel.

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nick davies

On the contrary, the C-op does exactly what the Big Six do, and shares the money with shareholders. The customers ARE the shareholders, that’s the whole point. You can go to the meetings, have a say in the way the organization operates and stand for election to the board if you want to.

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Daveg

I have been with Scottish power for 6 years.When my time to renew comes round I ring the girls in the office and ask them what my best option would be.I get recommended the best scheme for me,which is why I am only paying direct debit of £60 per month for Dual Fuel and I got cheque for £177 last year.I live in terraced house with Cavity wall insulation,Gas central heating,loft insulation.I have just had Solar panels installed which is reversing my meter until S.P change it.So I am quite happy with S.P

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Daniel

As a non DD paying customer I recently switched from SSE because unless you switched to paying by DD then the annual standing charge would increase from £60 to £100.

I switched to Co-op energy, they dont penalise non DD customers and dual fuel prices were comparable to SSE.

Since my daughter attends a Co-op nursery, the points accumulated as a member you receive back in vouchers every 6 months which you can use to pay your energy bill, your nursery bill or if you shop at a Co-op store.

I dont know how other energy groups treat non DD customers but I put money aside each month for my energy bills and gain interest on it in my own savings account instead of the energy company taking more than they need per month and gaining interest on it.

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