Customers of medium or smaller energy providers are more satisfied overall than those with the ‘Big Six’. Should you switch to a smaller provider?
A quarter of us are now customers of energy firms which aren’t the original ‘Big Six’. Some of these newer and smaller firms offer fantastic service, while a few are seriously letting customers down.
The recently-published results of our annual energy companies satisfaction survey revealed the best energy firms, according to their customers, as well as the ones to avoid. (Full results for Northern Ireland can be found here.)
The top-scorers were Octopus Energy, Ebico, Robin Hood Energy, So Energy and Tonik Energy. The worst supplier overall was Solarplicity. Spark Energy was the second-lowest ranked.
What do all of these have in common? They’re new, relatively small (at least in comparison to the Big Six), energy firms. A couple are not-for-profit. A couple sell only 100% renewable electricity.
Overall, we found that customers of medium or smaller energy providers are more satisfied with them, and rate them better on everything from customer service to bills to value for money, than customers of the Big Six.
But it’s not as simple as switching from the Big Six to get better service or prices.
Smaller suppliers are streets apart in how well they serve their customers: some are top of our rankings, others are seriously letting their customers down. Plus several have gone bust, and many have raised their prices. So choosing a supplier can feel a bit of a minefield at the moment.
Over the last four years, I have been a customer of four different gas and electricity suppliers. I’ve tried Big Six, medium-sized, and most-recently a smaller, newer market entrant.
My current, smaller, supplier doesn’t offer a breakdown of my energy usage via an online account, unlike my previous supplier. Perhaps it’s too new to have built this, undoubtedly expensive, feature yet.
But I never actually saw the fancy offering from my previous supplier: it wasn’t able to fix my online account login issues in the six months I spent as a customer.
It also doesn’t have answers to any question you might have on its website, ready and waiting for when you need help at 11pm on a Sunday.
But what it does do is respond to my emails (usually within a day), answer my questions precisely and does what it says it’s going to do.
These are simple and basic things but mean I feel friendly towards my supplier, rather than frustrated.
Plus I’m never in doubt that my bills are accurate or worried that I’ll have to pay more than I expect. It prompts me to send meter readings every month, and gives me a few days warning before it takes my direct debit.
I can enter my meter readings online (no more using up my minutes phoning in my meter readings). Again, simple things, but certainly reassuring.
I can’t promise I’ll stick with my smaller supplier for the long-term but, for the moment, what it lacks in fancy features it more than makes up for in getting the basics spot-on.
Have you switched to a smaller energy company? What differences have you noticed? What do you like about its service and what do you miss?