The best energy companies you've never heard of
Asurvey conducted in January by consumer campaigners Which? revealed the best and worst energy companies for customer satisfaction, and the results were unfamiliar to a number of British energy customers.
The top five energy companies for customer satisfaction were all little known, smaller suppliers, while the "big six" – E. ON, British Gas, EDF Energy, npower, Scottish Power and SSE – were all at the bottom of the table, with scores of 50 per cent or less.
Which? surveyed more than 9,400 people in October and November last year, with Ecotricity – a green independent supplier – topping the tables with 84pc for customer satisfaction.
Good Energy, another green supplier, scored 82pc, putting it in second place.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? said: “For the fourth year running, smaller suppliers are wiping the floor with the Big Six on customer service.
"The large energy firms, which dominate the market, need to up their game as millions of customers deserve better."
Customer satisfaction was rated on customer service, value for money, accuracy and clarity of bills, complaints and how they help customers to save energy.
With the top suppliers all relatively unknown to British consumers, we take a look at the five ranked highest for customer satisfaction.
Ecotricity – scored 84pc
Founded in 1996, Ecotricity was Britain's first green electricity company, which then introduced green gas to the UK in 2010. It uses its customer's bills to "fund the building of new sources of Green Energy – from windmills to solar-panelled 'sun parks'".
Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said: "At Ecotricity, we have three principal attractions: the greenest energy, the best customer service, and an ethical pricing policy that means every customer gets our best price, regardless of how they pay or when they joined us.
"Coming top of the Which? customer survey enforces the fact we have the fewest complaints in the industry – there is no hiding from the raw data. Companies that trade only on price and forget customer service are making a mistake."
The company supplies 100pc green electricity to more than 150,000 customers, with an average £265 being spent, per customer, on building new sources of green electricity.
More info: Ecotricity
Good Energy – scored 82pc
Good Energy was founded in 1999 by current CEO Juliet Davenport, an Oxford graduate who was interested in climate change. Based in Wiltshire, the company supplies energy to more than 66,000 customers.
While Good Energy rates highly in terms of
customer satisfaction, its tariffs aren't always cheap, and more competitive deals can be found elsewhere.
Ms Davenport said last year: “It is worth noting that while Good Energy is not the cheapest energy supplier on the market, we are by no means the most expensive".
More info: Good Energy
EBICo – scored 81pc
Ebico, which works in partnership with SSE, is the UK's only not-for-profit energy company and supplies more than 60,000 customers. The company uses a fuel mix of 44pc coal, 28pc natural gas, 2pc nuclear, 24pc renewable and 2pc other.
The company charges its customers the same rate, regardless of payment method or usage. It also has no standing charge, so customers pay for what they use.
In October, Which?'s "mystery shopper" research into energy supplier response times placed Ebico top for speed of answering customer calls, at an average 30 seconds. Scottish Power was rated worst, with customers made to wait more than 30 minutes for a customer service advisor to answer the phone.
More info: EBICo
Ovo Energy – scored 80pc
Ovo Energy was founded by Steven Fitzpatrick in 2009, and is based in Bristol. It is one of the fastest-growing new suppliers in Britain and has more than 400,000 customers.
It claims to "watch wholesale gas and electricity prices like a hawk and buy at just the right time" in order to keep bills low.
The supplier offers some of the cheapest tariffs on the market. Its "Better Energy Fixed Online" is in the top 10 cheapest deals, costing £973 a year.
More info: Ovo Energy
The Utility Warehouse – scored 76pc
The Utility Warehouse is perhaps the least-known of the top five energy suppliers, as it says itself on its website: "You may not have heard of the Utility Warehouse before. We don't spend our customers' money on expensive advertising campaigns." The company not only offers energy deals, but also home phone, broadband and mobile packages to more than 770,000 customers.
It does not charge its energy customers exit fees.
Andrew Lindsay MBE, former GB Olympic gold-medallist is CEO of Telecom Plus plc, which owns and runs the Utility Warehouse brand.
Interestingly, the company uses agents (who receive commission) to sign up new customers. Twenty-seven per cent of respondents in the Which? survey admitted to either being an agent for Utility Warehouse, or receiving a discount for recommending someone else. Without these 'agents', Utlity Warehouse customers scored it 73pc, placing it in joint-sixth place.
More info: Utility Warehouse