What is it?
Flipper is a new energy company, founded in 2015, that functions as an online comparison algorithm, automatically switching its customers onto cheaper deals. It was designed to take the work out of switching and energy comparison, allowing their customers to have more time and money to do the things they want to with their free time. The company currently has 7000 customers in the UK and at this moment looks to be a unique business model.
How it works
Sign up online, filling in some rather basic personal details along with a little information about your current supplier. You do not, however, need any bills. Any supplier information should be sufficiently provided from memory. You will perhaps also have to later give a meter reading.
Your yearly subscription with Flipper will cost £25. This does not include any additional fees such as tariff exit fees that you are automatically entered into.
Once you are on the system and have set up your payment details, you will begin the switching process. Using their comparison algorithm ‘Joules’, they claim to find a tariff for you that is cheaper than your current tariff within one working day.
This process of switching tariffs is what they call ‘flipping’.
This process will continue throughout the year. If there are consistently cheaper tariffs available, Flipper will switch your tariff a total of four times. This is covered by your subscription fee.
Flipper’s algorithm will also react to the market, meaning if your current tariff is set for a price increase, you will be ‘flipped’ to avoid paying more for your energy.
This process will be carried out by choosing from more than 52 suppliers, any of which can be manually omitted from your search should you not want to be supplied by them for any reason.
- This business model is fantastic for anyone who does not have the time or desire to spend a considerable amount of time on tariff research. Even if the savings through this method are minimal, it would definitely be an improvement for the majority of people, namely those who do not switch their tariff at all.
- It is the job of the people that are in charge of you switching to know gas and electricity tariffs inside and out, meaning theoretically you should be in good hands; however, because of the volume of customers, the searching process is carried out by the ‘Joules’ algorithm.
- Unlike many comparison tools, Flipper do not take any commision from you switching. They charge you one transparent fee of £25 each year.
- Flipper’s service is customisable to a degree: you can omit certain energy companies and tariffs from the algorithm if you do not wish to be contracted with them.
- Flipper claim to always flip you to a cheaper tariff; however, this can not be true: because of the volatile nature of the energy market, this would be impossible. If for the rest of your life, Flipper continued to flip you to a cheaper price 4 times a year, theoretically your dual fuel bill could end up being as low as £5 a month, which, however idyllic it may be, is wildly unrealistic. At some point your bill will inevitably get a little more expensive, which is avoided/postponed by fixed tariffs that allow you to choose one fixed price, sometimes for over two years. Because Flipper switches your tariff so frequently, although it may seem cheaper in the short term, you may end up losing money in the long run. Sometimes sticking to one fixed tariff can save you money over a long period of time.
- Because of the frequency of ‘flips’, it is likely that the amount of exit fees that will incur from switching would result in quite a large expense per year. With this in mind, the algorithm often prioritises variable tariffs to avoid additional fees. These are often a considerable amount more expensive than their fixed alternatives, not to mention their tendency to go up in price.
- When Flipper inform you of how much you would save by using their service, they base their estimates on your energy supplier’s most expensive tariff, which is extremely misleading. For example, they may say that you’ll save £100 by using their service; however, the no longer available fixed tariff you are using is £150 cheaper per year than the current most expensive tariff through your supplier, therefore you would be actually spending £50 more.
- Although Flipper has an extremely positive Trustpilot rating of 8.3 out of 10, there are some extremely interesting criticisms that seem to be very commonplace throughout. Their main complaints were based on customer service competency, claiming they took large amounts of time to respond and did not resolve queries and issues their customers had. We decided to test this out for ourselves:
On the 23rd December 2016 we carried out a basic live chat conversation to check response time. This is the time taken for each response:
First response: 80 minutes
Second response: 70 minutes
Total time waiting: 2 hours 30 minutes.
If this was their response time for email, it would not be so bad; however, because this is a ‘live’ chat service, it is absolutely appalling. Many have stated that they believe Flipper is a great idea, just executed extremely poorly.
- Flipper is not registered to an Ombudsman service, which has caused customers many problems when attempting to go through their ‘frustrating and not transparent’* complaints procedure.
*Clever Tandi, UK, Trustpilot.
Flipper has a great idea in this service; however, it is extremely difficult to execute to its maximum potential. They must be doing something right, as they have already acquired 7000 customers, although to improve this number they are going to have to do something about their substandard customer service. This service would be ideal for anyone who wants to save a little money on their energy with minimal effort; however, for those who want to save a considerable amount, this probably isn’t for you.