More people walking away from ‘Big Six’ energy firms

Consumers are increasingly switching to small and medium sized energy providers and shunning the “Big Six”, according to new figures.

One in five customers switched their energy provider in 2018 – an increase of 6% on the previous year.

Data from industry association Energy UK found that 5.8 million changed their supplier last year, or an average of just under half a million each month.

Octopus Energy is 2019’s highest-ranked energy firm — but the Big Six all ranked in the bottom third.

— Which? (@WhichUK) January 21, 2019

It continues a trend of year-on-year increases in energy switching, Energy UK said, with around 30% – or 1.7 million customers – moving to a small or mid-tier supplier.

Recent research by consumer watchdog Which? found that five small energy suppliers topped the rankings for customer satisfaction.

Octopus Energy came top with a satisfaction score of 80%, closely followed by Robin Hood Energy and So Energy in joint second place with 78% and Ebico and Tonik Energy in joint fourth position on 76%.

Octopus Energy came top of the list (Dave Thompson/PA)

But bucking the trend was small supplier Solarplicity – it was the worst energy firm according to its customers, with an overall score of just 44%.

Which? also noted that three small firms – Spark Energy, Extra Energy and Economy Energy – have ceased trading since the survey was carried out, although Spark still operates as a brand name after being taken over by Ovo.

Their results aren’t included but all performed poorly, Which? said.

The Big Six – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – were relegated to the bottom third of the rankings.

None received an overall customer score higher than 58%.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of Home Products and Services, said: “Our survey shows the importance of value for money and good customer service – energy suppliers delivering both to their customers tend to be thriving, while the Big Six and other poorly-ranked firms are paying the price for not giving customers what they want.”

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British Gas was in the bottom third of the rankings (Philip Toscano/PA)

Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “The Which? survey highlights once again that the Big Six are miserably failing their customers.

She added: “Customers should continue to shop around because they cannot rely on energy suppliers giving consumers a good deal or delivering the quality customer service which they deserve.”

The figures come at the start of “Big Energy Saving Week” – an initiative run by Citizens Advice and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

A spokesman for Citizens Advice said despite the introduction of a price cap on energy bills last year, households could save more than £150 each year by switching supplier.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “These figures show that there are still large numbers of people paying over the odds on their energy bills.

“While the price cap will mean people paying a fairer price, there are still substantial savings to be made.”