Good pricing, a decent service or an easy fix when things go wrong? What is it that you value in an energy provider?
The start of spring is only a couple of months away so I’ve begun to work out how long I have left until my dreaded winter energy bill lands on my doorstep.
In truth, this bill would be less loathsome to pay if I felt like I was getting some sort of genuine service and value for money from my provider.
Being a household of two and living in a small property that is less than 40 years old, I don’t consider myself an energy guzzler. Yet I almost always get bill shock whenever I see my bill.
Discovering why it has amounted to so much usually proves problematic. My online account tells me so little that I would have to call my provider to find out, but that would probably mean spending considerable time on hold.
Other than that, I seem to have no contact with my provider unless it wants to flog me some added packaged extra. And while its tariffs aren’t the cheapest, they’re by no means great, either.
So really, it doesn’t feel as though I get much in return from my provider. I shouldn’t put up with it – I should have switched energy supplier and I should have done it long ago.
Getting little satisfaction
Our latest survey of energy companies reveals what nearly 9,000 customers think of their gas and electricity provider. The biggest energy company survey of its kind, it has results for 31 energy firms in England, Scotland and Wales.
The Big Six energy companies don’t fare well. When asked to rate their energy provider, just 32% of customers of the Big Six said they were very satisfied. This compares with 52% customers of medium-sized suppliers and 45% of smaller suppliers.
Customers of medium-sized firms are also most likely to rate their supplier excellent for every measure we surveyed on (compared with the Big Six and small energy companies), including for the clarity and accuracy of their bills, for their phone customer service, and for being excellent value for money.
But smaller firms are hot on their heels. Their customers almost as often rank value for money, bill clarity and online customer service excellent.
In fact, newcomer and small energy company, Octopus Energy is the only gas and electricity firm to be a Which? Recommended Provider for 2018.
So what is it that’s so off-putting about some energy providers?
As a customer of a Big Six provider, I’m not necessarily expecting a bells-and-whistles service, rather the knowledge that I’m not overpaying when I could be on one of its better tariffs.
And when I think about it, the relationship I have with my energy provider reminds me of one I had with a former landlord – I never saw or heard from them unless they wanted more money. If something needed fixing it was a nightmare to get it sorted. The end result? We moved out.
Service can be better, I’m sure of it.
What about you? What do you expect from your energy provider? What could it do to improve your satisfaction of its service? Or do you rate your provider highly?