There has been quite a lot of press over recent days after it was revealed that the Big Six energy companies received more than 5.5 million complaints from consumers last year. Now that the dust has settled, I decided to have a look at what was actually being said and what conclusions we can draw.
Complaints are Far Reaching
The Telegraph reported that the complaints were far reaching and ranged from problems with billing, customer service, payments, metering and switching i.e. everything! They also gave further insight into the story by actually detailing the number of complaints each company received. Npower topped the list with 1,383,650 complaints followed by EDF at 1,240,005. British Gas were a close third with 1,235,550 complaints and then there was a more significant drop with EON at 929,230. The smaller companies, SSE and Scottish Power received 482,582 and 306,648 complaints respectively.
The figures reveal there isn’t really a lot between the top three offenders and, when switching, customer service is certainly something to consider alongside prices. I suspect that one of the reasons for the high level of complaints has been the ever increasing energy price rises. Npower, for instance, raised their prices by 10.4% in October 2013, with British Gas not far behind at 9.2%. Customers may have in the past put up with poor service when they felt they were getting a good or, at least a fair deal on their energy bills but not any more.
Customers are Moving to Independent Energy Companies
The Guardian also covered the story and highlighted why consumers might be better off with an independent company by reporting on the recent announcement by Ovo Energy that they have cut prices, making them the cheapest on the market. The article also reported that independent energy companies have gained over 700,00 new customers during 2013.
I decided to have a quick scout around to see what reviews were saying about Ovo. On Moneysupermarket they score 6/10 but that’s only from 104 reviews which is probably not a large enough sample. Similarly Money.co.uk rates Ovo 4.5 out of 5 but again, this is just from 22 reviews. Uswitch don’t even rate Ovo yet as they have had fewer than 200 responses regarding the supplier. Npower, on the other hand has a MoneySupermarket score of 4/10 from 1015 reviews and money.co.uk they received 3.2 out of 5. What about British Gas? You only have to look at twitter @britishgashelp (is that an oxymoron?) to see what their customers think! So, relatively, Ovo seem to be quite popular.
So, the data clearly shows the Big Six are not meeting the expectations of their customers and that it is well worth shopping around as you may not only find a cheaper tariff, but end up with a company that actually cares about their customers.
See more on this story:
The Telegraph reports on 5.5 million complaints a year about Big Six: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/10637661/Big-Six-energy-firms-receive-5.5m-complaints-in-year.html
The Guardian reports on flight of customers away from Big Six: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/feb/14/energy-companies-concessions-customers-leave-big-six
Ovo Energy customer reviews – Moneysupermarket.com