Octopus Energy has come top in Which?’s annual customer survey as the consumer champion calls on energy firms to do more to support consumers during the cost of living crisis.
Over the last two years, the energy market has changed completely – gas prices have soared, millions of consumers have been transferred to a new supplier, cheap tariffs are non-existent and the government has had to offer universal financial support for energy bills.
A fifth (20%) of energy customers in Which?’s survey were moved to their current supplier when their former one failed – with Shell Energy customers most likely to have experienced this (45%).
Which? surveyed 10,197 members of the public in October 2022 to discover which suppliers have remained calm in a crisis and which have let some customers down. The consumer champion also conducted an in-depth assessment of suppliers’ practices and procedures in three areas – how well they conduct customer service, how they deal with complaints and how they support customers in need.
The average customer score was 54 per cent this year – lower than it was in January 2022 (59%) and 2021 (64%).
Octopus Energy came top with a combined score of 78 per cent – incorporating both the customer survey and Which?’s assessment of suppliers’ practices – and was named a Which? Recommended Provider for the sixth year in a row. It was the only provider to receive the award in this year’s survey.
Octopus was the only provider to receive a five-star rating in any category – with customers awarding five stars for usefulness of information about energy costs. It received an impressive four-star rating for every other category. Octopus customers were most likely to recommend their supplier – with nearly nine in ten (87%) saying they would recommend it.
Octopus Energy took on an additional 1.5 million customers from Bulb in December last year. Which? will be watching closely to see if the firm can maintain its impressive performance with so many more customers to look after.
Utilita came in second place with a combined score of 67 per cent. However, it ranked much higher in Which?’s assessment of supplier practices (75%) than in the customer survey (59%).
At the other end of the scale, Scottish Power came at the bottom of the consumer champion’s assessment of supplier practices with a score of 53 per cent. It received just three points for its complaints performance.
Shell Energy and SSE Energy Services came bottom of the customer survey with overall scores of 48 and 46 per cent respectively.
Shell Energy received just one star for value for money in Which?’s survey and its customers were least likely to recommend it to others. Just under half (47%) of Shell customers said they would recommend the firm – compared to an average six in 10 (61%) across all firms.
SSE Energy Services only got one star for three of the aspects in Which?’s customer satisfaction survey, including the clarity of its communication about the energy market, and two stars for the remaining two. Over half (54%) of SSE Energy Services customers complained about an issue with their bill.
Which? recently launched a cost of living campaign calling on essential businesses – including energy firms – to do more to support their customers through the cost of living crisis.
In particular, energy firms should ensure that their customer service is running as smoothly as possible. With more people likely to be needing to get in touch with their provider during the cost of living crisis, consumers should not be left struggling to seek support or have their issue resolved.
Firms should also ensure customers on prepayment meters – who are more likely to be vulnerable and on lower incomes – are able to access government support, and prioritise them in their smart meter roll-outs where appropriate.
Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:
“While customers are choosing to stay put due to a lack of deals in the energy market, our research has found that some firms are falling far short of meeting their customers’ needs during the cost of living crisis.
“Providers must make it as easy as possible for customers to get in touch and seek support when they need it – or customers will vote with their feet and switch away when this becomes an option.”
Notes to editors
Which? cost of living campaign
The consumer champion recently launched a campaign calling on businesses in essential sectors – supermarkets, telecoms and energy – to do more to help their customers through the cost of living crisis.
Which? surveyed 10,197 UK adults in October 2022. Fieldwork was carried out online by Deltapoll and the data has been weighted to be representative of the UK population (aged 18+).
The customer score is based on satisfaction and likelihood to recommend. Customers also rated aspects of service, which are presented as star ratings.
At least 50 responses were needed to give a rating, and sample sizes are in brackets in the table below.
The Which? assessment of supplier practices and procedures score is based on: support for vulnerable customers (40%); complaints performance (30%); customer service (30%).
The total score is a combination of customer score and Which? assessment score.
E didn’t return the supplier questionnaire, so we couldn’t give them a Which? Assessment score or rate them overall. Ecotricity, GEUK, Good Energy, M&S Energy and Outfox the Market received too few responses in our survey to be given a customer score or rate them overall. But they did complete our supplier questionnaire, and have been given a Which? assessment score. Which? rated 21 energy companies in Great Britain, covering more than 98% of the market.
Full table of results
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