21/01/2019 00:01 GMT

The 'Big Six' Energy Firms Are Being Shunned After 'Miserably Failing' Customers

Increasing number of people switching their provider, latest figures reveal.

Consumers are increasingly turning their backs on the “Big Six” energy providers and switching to small and medium sized firms, new figures show.

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 people changed their supplier last year – an average of just under half a million each month.

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%. Ebico and Tonik Energy were in joint fourth position on 76%.

But bucking the trend was small supplier Solarplicity, which 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.

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

The so-called 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.”

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.

“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.”