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Small suppliers are winning the energy race

Small suppliers are winning the energy race

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 23/07/2014
First Published: 23/07/2014

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This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Are you happy with your energy supplier? Unfortunately, the answer could well be no. According to research from energyhelpline.com, customer satisfaction towards the Big Six energy firms is measurably low – but the smaller suppliers are coming out on top.

In fact, four of the UK's biggest energy companies are squarely at the bottom of the chart when it comes to overall satisfaction ratings, while independent supplier Ovo easily wins the race by having the happiest customers of the lot. Given that only one big supplier made it into the top six (SSE), it's clear that more needs to be done to improve customer service for the majority.

However, the study also highlighted the noticeable differences between overall satisfaction ratings (which are often linked with pricing) and customer service ratings. First:utility, for example, wowed when it came to price but were let down by their customer service, whereas small supplier Green Star had exactly the opposite problem.

It seems to be a difficult balance to strike, but some suppliers fail on all counts – Npower came out at the bottom in terms of both customer service and overall satisfaction, which could be a sign that customers are tiring of ever-increasing energy bills.

Mark Todd, co-founder of energyhelpline.com, explained:

"It is clear that, following price rises, high supplier profits and service issues, consumer confidence in energy suppliers has hit a low ebb.

"Wholesale prices have dropped, but energy prices are at an all-time high and customer service problems seem to be deepening. It is no surprise that bill-payers will be getting frustrated and angry as many are experiencing truly awful service.

"We know that some suppliers have had waiting times exceeding 30 minutes to their customer service lines. We urge suppliers to tackle these issues as this is an unacceptable situation for many of their customers. It is our hope that by conducting this quarterly customer satisfaction survey, suppliers will take action and address these issues."

The study follows news last week from the Energy Ombudsman that, in the first six months of 2014, complaints about energy companies have more than doubled from the same period last year. Clearly, a lot of people aren't happy with their supplier, and given that a lot of consumers could be seeing their fixed rate tariffs come to an end – and their bills rise accordingly – it makes even more sense to consider the alternatives.

It's easy to compare the options and switch to a better deal – especially through our handy comparison tool – and if you find a supplier that can offer the ideal combination of customer service excellence and competitive prices, you really can't go wrong.

Mark Todd concludes: "Too many people think they cannot switch and so become trapped in a customer service hell. Choose your supplier and compare prices to ensure you are with the best supplier for your needs."

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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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