Are smaller energy suppliers as reliable as the ‘Big 6’?

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Smaller energy providers can offer some great deals, so should definitely be on your list when you compare energy suppliers. Whether you’re looking to do an electricity comparison, a gas comparison, or both,  the little guys could save you a packet.

That said, may people are wary of them, with 90% of UK households sticking with the Big Six energy providers. There’s often a feeling that you might risk being cut off, if there’s an issue, with a smaller supplier, or a perception that the other services – billing, customer services – may not be as slick.

But that’s a mistake and you could be missing out on some great deals.

Why should I consider all energy suppliers, big and small?

Firstly, smaller suppliers can offer you some great tariffs. In an attempt to make the energy market more competitive, the government has allowed smaller providers some slight advantages over the bigger companies. Small energy companies are, for example, exempt from the Energy Company Obligation.

This support from the government allows the smaller suppliers to make savings and these savings are, in turn, passed on to the customer. This means the smaller outfits can actually offer some of the best deals on the market. So, if you’re doing an energy comparison don’t forget to look outside of the Big Six.

What does the ‘Big Six’ mean?

When we talk about the Big Six, we mean the six biggest energy companies in the UK – British Gas, EDF Energy, Npower, E.On, Scottish Power and SSE. These are the household names, the big dogs, the companies who’ve been around the block a bit. You’re probably with one of them now or have been with one of them at some point.

But if you’re doing an energy comparison for the UK, don’t forget to include the little guys because they could offer you some surprisingly good deals.

So, what can smaller suppliers offer?

Most importantly, they can deliver cheaper deals, but they also – perhaps surprisingly – offer some of the best customer services in the sector. Compared to some of the bigger companies, many of the small providers have impressive customer service ratings. Companies such as GB Energy, for example, are renowned for great customer service and have had success challenging the Big Six on this front.

It makes sense that, in a smaller company, each customer ‘matters more’ whereas, with a big company, it’s easy to get lost in systems and process. And, let’s face it, we all want to matter more.  So, it’s worthwhile looking at the customer service record of a potential new provider to see how they treat their customers. On the flip side, smaller companies have a less of a track record, so are sometimes deemed as less trustworthy in the eyes of consumers.

One other thing to consider, when you compare energy suppliers, is where the energy comes from. If you place a lot of importance on green energy, that comes from renewable sources, you should check the fuel mix for each supplier to find out what percentage of the energy comes from ‘green’ sources. Who doesn’t want to save the planet and save money? – two wins for the price of one, there. Taking the time to do a good energy comparison, could save you money and ensure you’re getting exactly what you want from an energy supplier.

What happens if a small supplier goes bust?

People are often wary of going with a smaller energy supplier because they are worried about what might happen if the company goes out of business. Many people think their energy may be cut off if this happens. It won’t. Really. In fact, if a supplier does go under, you’re very well protected.

If a small provider goes bust, Ofgem has your back. Ofgem will move you to a new supplier immediately – you don’t need to do anything. And there will be absolutely no gap or pause your energy supply. In fact, it’s so seamless you won’t even notice a change.

Thanks, Ofgem.

Once Ofgem has moved you, you can choose to remain with the supplier they have moved you to; change tariff with that supplier or change supplier altogether. The official advice is to take a meter reading then do nothing until Ofgem has found a new supplier and been in touch with you.

Ofgem will usually make quite a speedy decision and announce details on their website. They do try to ask suppliers to bid to take on the customers so do try to secure you a good deal, but you may still want to consider moving again. Once they’ve found the new supplier, you’ll be moved into a new contract with them and then the new provider will contact you.

Be aware that the contract the supplier puts you on will be a ‘deemed’ contract and these are not usually particularly cheap contracts. So, once you’ve been moved, you may want to compare energy suppliers and switch – and we’ll be here ready and waiting to help you do it! Whether you want to do an electricity comparison or gas comparison, our automated system can do the hard work for you to save you time and money.

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About Switchcraft

We believe that everyone deserves a fair deal on energy. Switchcraft is a free auto switching service that scours the energy market for great gas and electricity deals for you. Signing up takes less than 3 minutes and after that, our system automatically switches you to a new deal each year. Save money on your bills by doing nothing. And you’ll always be in control if, for whatever reason, you can cancel at any time.