Big Six in a fix as small firms top annual Which? energy survey

Small energy suppliers have trounced the Big Six in Which?’s annual satisfaction survey, with Britain’s largest providers left languishing near the bottom of the rankings.

The consumer champion surveyed 8,000 people across the UK about their provider – and the results demonstrate the importance of performing well in areas valued by customers, including value for money, excellent customer service and accurate billing.

Several small firms that were falling short in some of these crucial areas have collapsed in recent months – while those that kept their customers happy dominate the top of the rankings.

Five small suppliers topped the rankings, with only tiny margins separating first-placed Octopus Energy, Robin Hood Energy and So Energy in joint second place, and Ebico and Tonik Energy in joint fourth position.

Octopus, which supplies more than 400,000 homes, was rated as good or excellent value for money by nine in 10 customers and 96 per cent of its customers gave it the same rating for online customer service.

However, small supplier, Solarplicity, rated for the first time in the Which? survey, was the worst energy firm according to its customers, with an overall customer score of just 44 per cent (compared with Octopus’ 80 per cent).

It was the only provider to receive one-star ratings, including for customer service, both online and on the phone. Additionally, three quarters of its customers told us that it is poor or very poor at dealing with complaints.

The Big Six energy suppliers – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE all sit in the bottom third of the table, with none of the six receiving an overall customer score higher than 58 per cent, 22 percentage points lower than Octopus.

SSE was the highest-ranked of them – and the only one to receive four-star ratings for its customer service online and on the phone. Npower and Scottish Power were joint lowest ranked of the Big Six and were the only two of them to receive two-star ratings for their complaints handling.

Which? found less than one in five (18%) Big Six customers are very satisfied with their supplier, compared with a third (33%) of customers with medium and small suppliers.

Three small firms included in the Which? survey – Spark Energy, Extra Energy and Economy Energy – have ceased trading since the survey was conducted. Spark was taken over by Ovo Energy, which has retained the Spark Energy brand. Economy Energy and Extra Energy are no longer trading so aren’t included in the Which? results.

All performed poorly in the consumer champion’s survey. Spark Energy is second from last, in 29th position. Extra Energy would have been in joint 26th position alongside British Gas, while Economy Energy would have been in 29th position.

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.

“All energy companies should be working to give their customers competitive prices and excellent customer service. If you’re not getting a good deal, you should look to switch, as you could potentially save over a hundred pounds and get a much improved service.”

Notes to editors:

  • For the full results, including how customers rank their energy supplier’s customer service, value for money, bills, complaints handling and more, go to:
  • Which? surveyed 8,000 members of the public in September 2018 and asked them what they thought of their energy supplier.
  • Which? rated 30 energy companies in England, Scotland and Wales, covering more than 90% of that market, as well as six of the seven companies in Northern Ireland.
  • Click Energy, GB Energy Supply, Good Energy, M&S Energy and PFP Energy didn’t receive enough survey responses to be included this year.
  • A ‘-’ in the table above indicates that we didn’t receive enough responses from a supplier’s customers to give it a rating.
  • Octopus Energy is this year’s only Which? Recommended Provider.
  • Suppliers counted as medium suppliers are Bulb, Co-operative Energy, Economy Energy, First Utility, Green Star Energy, Ovo Energy, Spark Energy, Utilita and Utility Warehouse.
  • Which? calculates that an average user (using 3,100kWh gas and 12,000kWh electricity per year) on a dual-fuel default or tariff standard tariff with one of the Big Six energy companies could save up to £169 by switching to the cheapest deal on the market. Based on tariffs available in all regions in England, Scotland and Wales, paying by monthly direct debit, with paperless bills. Data is from Energylinx and correct on 11 January 2019.
  • Which?’s Northern Ireland energy guide can be found at:
  • Find out what it takes to become a Which? Recommended Provider at:
  • Consumers looking for cheaper energy deals can compare deals with Which? Switch, a transparent and impartial way to compare energy tariffs and find the best gas and electricity supplier:
  • Top tips for saving money on your energy bills:

Press Release