More people than ever are being tempted by a switch from the big energy companies to their smaller independent competitors. This inference follows the release of a survey by consumer group, ‘Which?’, to find the best energy firms in Britain. It has found the “big six” suppliers to be among the worst providers of energy for customer satisfaction.
Consumers have ranked Ecotricity, a firm which specialises in renewable energy and has spent more per customer in cultivating new sustainable sources of green electricity than any other UK energy business, coming in with 84%. The rest of the best is made up of other small suppliers such as Good Energy and Ebico.
Richard Lloyd, the 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.
‘We need the Competition and Markets Authority to propose radical remedies to fix this broken market. Instead of waiting for the outcome of the competition inquiry, companies should make immediate improvements to help restore trust among their long-suffering customers.’
‘Which?’ evaluated the energy companies according to a number of different standards such as customer service, complaints handling, how they aided customers to save energy and the transparency and accuracy of their bills. Furthermore, they took data concerning customers overall satisfaction and the likelihood that they would recommend the company to a friend.
This comes in the wake of the recent cuts by the big suppliers in their gas tariffs due to unrelenting political and consumer pressure to do so. Public indignation has been sparked by the fact that there has been a plunge in wholesale energy prices, particularly in oil, and the so-called ‘big six’ supplier have failed to pass that reduction on to the benefit of their customers.
The energy giants responded to this recent bad PR with an ardent defence of their practice. After Npower was ranked the worst energy firm in the survey, their director of domestic retail business, Roger Hattam, said: “We’re disappointed with the results. We value all feedback and have already made significant improvements to how we look after our customers.” He went on to state that the corporation would work extremely hard in order to improve their service for customers and thus restore the company name.
Meanwhile, the smaller independent organizations are seeking to capitalise on this setback, with the newly crowned Ecotricity announcing a 6.1% cut in the price of gas for all its customers, which outstrips any other reduction announced thus far within the industry.
Dale Vince, the founder, has ensured that they concentrate on constructing windfarms and delivering low-carbon power. Ecotricity is a “not-for-dividend” venture and is also the only company in the UK to offer a green gas tariff, which comes with the added benefit of a fracking-free pledge.
Mr. Vince stated: “At Ecotricity we’ve been watching the recent drop in wholesale gas prices and have been keen to pass on a price cut to our customers as soon as we could…We have just one gas tariff and one price for new and existing customers. So, uniquely in the energy industry, this price cut is for everyone.”
Ecotricty plans to make the 6.1% reduction on 1 May which should cut roughly £42 off a typical domestic bill per annum.
However, they have said they expect to make further cuts in the next twelve months due to an anticipated further reduction in wholesale gas price, again the result of a continual nosedive in the price of oil. They have doubled their customer base to 150,000 in the last year with 50,000 of those paying for gas. However, they remain a comparative small fish, with the “big six” dominating 90% of the energy market.
The top six energy suppliers according to Which’s consumer satisfaction survey read as follows:
• 84% Ecotricity
• 82% Good Energy
• 81% Ebico
• 80% Ovo Energy
• 76% Utility Warehouse
• 73% Flow Energy
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