Independent energy firms Good Energy and Ecotricity have topped the 2014 Which? energy company customer satisfaction survey, beating off competition from UK ‘Big Six’ players such as British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE.
Which? surveyed more than 8,500 of its members, from which Good Energy and Ecotricity emerge jointly victorious with a table-topping 82% satisfaction rating. In contrast Npower came bottom with 31% satisfied.
The bottom-rating in this survey mirrors similar findings – as reported last week in the Scottish Energy News – from Consumer Futures, the UK electricity watchdog.
Good Energy is a small independent supplier providing energy generated by renewables, such as wind, solar, hydro and wave power, to about 35,000 customers. It might not be the cheapest provider, but it’s freezing its prices until at least 31 March 2014. And before that, it has increased electricity prices only once in the last four years.
Similarly Ecotricity has promised to freeze its prices until April 2014. It has about 80,000 customers and is the only firm to score five stars in each category in our survey. Ecotricity prides itself in having the lowest number of complaints received per thousand customers compared with most energy providers.
While it’s not 100% renewable (the provider’s fuel mix data show it’s 68% renewable), Ecotricity says that it invests about £280 per customer per year in building new sources of green energy.
Gloucestershire-based Ecotricity is creating 50 new jobs as record numbers of households switch their electricity and gas supply away from the Big Six energy companies
Despite dominating the market, the ‘big six’ energy suppliers (British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power) all ended up in the bottom of the Which? survey. Out of the big six energy suppliers, Eon scored the highest customer score of 45%, while Npower came last, receiving the worst customer score overall. It scored just one star in three categories, including value for money, how it deals with complaints and how it helps its customers save energy.
This year, for the first time, enough customers have responded to the survey for Spark Energy and Utilita to be included among the results.
Utilita, which specialises in prepayment customers, achieved seventh place, while Spark Energy,which has been offering some of the most competitive deals on the market in recent months – scores only 48%, with poor ratings for customer service and how it deals with complaints.
Both companies scored five stars for value for money.
Commenting on the grim results for the Big Six energy suppliers, OFGEM – the UK electricity markets regulator – said: “Our own research shows that many consumers were not satisfied with the energy market and that they were confused by the sheer number and complexity of tariffs on offer.
“This is why Ofgem started to implement reforms for a simpler, clearer, fairer energy market last summer. They will be fully in place this summer.
“These are the biggest changes to the energy retail market since competition began. They will increase competitive pressure on suppliers, and make sure that consumers find it easier to pick out the best deal for them.”