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OVO Energy crowned supplier of the year as Big Six disappoint

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Challenger energy suppliers OVO Energy and Octopus Energy were awarded the top two positions in uSwitch’s 2019 Energy Awards, while the ‘Big Six’ languished following a year of price rises.

Overall, customer satisfaction with energy suppliers dropped for the second year running – falling from an average of 74% to 72%.

This is perhaps unsurprising after energy customers faced an average of more than one price rise per week in 2018 and witnessed the collapse of nine small energy firms.

Further price rises lie ahead after regulator Ofgem announced an increase in the level of the default tariff price cap in February. All of the Big Six providers have confirmed they are raising their pricing in line with the cap from 1 April, as well as several challenger brands.

The results of customer satisfaction research by uSwitch, based on responses from 17,000 energy customers, saw OVO Energy crowned supplier of the year, scoring 88%, up from 86% last year. This is the fourth time OVO Energy has been awarded the top prize.

Octopus Energy claimed second position, with a customer satisfaction score of 87%. The supplier also came top in the ‘Most Likely to be Recommended’ category.

How the Big Six fared

The results were less positive for the Big Six suppliers, which continued to languish near the bottom of the rankings.

npower ranked the lowest of the Big Six suppliers for overall customer satisfaction. However the company was rated the highest among the large suppliers for billing services, which indicates that its decision to overhaul its billing system is starting to pay off.

Among the Big Six, SSE ranked the highest for overall customer satisfaction with a score of 70%. SSE also took home the large supplier awards for ‘Most Likely to be Recommended’ and ‘Best Meter Reading Services’.

For the first time in the survey’s history,  a supplier outside of the Big Six was given the wooden spoon award by uSwitch: Outfox the Market was named the worst supplier for customer satisfaction with a score of 64%.

When it comes to choosing an energy supplier, uSwitch found that low prices remain the top priority, followed by value for money.

In a competitive market, five areas saw a year-on-year improvement in the satisfaction scores. They were ‘Incentives and Rewards’, ‘Green Services’, ‘Energy Efficiency’, ‘Online Services’ and ‘Transfer Process’.

The table below shows how each provider fared in relation to overall customer satisfaction:

Rank Energy supplier Overall satisfaction score Year-on-year change
1 OVO Energy 88.4% Plus 2%
2 Octopus Energy 86.7% Minus 8.9%
3 Utility Warehouse 82.9% Minus 6.9%
4 Bulb 81.2% Minus 10.4%
5 The Co-op Energy 81.2% Plus 3.2%
6 Avro Energy 80.6% New entrant
7 First Utility 80.2% Minus 4.8%
8 Utilita 75.3% Minus 5.8%
9 Sainsbury’s Energy 73.0% Minus 3.1%
10 SSE 70.3% Minus 0.2%
11 EDF Energy 69.3% Minus 0.9%
12 Scottish Power 68.9% Minus 1.7%
13 E.ON 68.8% Minus 1.1%
14 British Gas/Scottish Gas 66.7% Minus 1.2%
15 npower 66.3% Plus 1.3%
16 Outfox the Market 64.1% New entrant

Source: uSwitch

Rik Smith, uSwitch’s energy expert, commented: “Companies which can demonstrate a better track record of treating their customers well, alongside attractive prices, will be the winners as consumers look to escape higher bills in 2019.”

He added that if an energy customer does not think their supplier is up to scratch, they should not hesitate to take matters into their own hands to find a better alternative.

“In many cases, taking a few minutes to switch saves hundreds of pounds and can lead to huge improvements in the quality of service people receive,” he said.