In the UK we like to believe that loyalty goes a long way. The more time you stick around, the more rewards you’re likely to receive, right? It would appear that this most certainly is not the case for the majority of UK energy consumption, and if you’re reading this, there is an 85% chance you’re included in this statistic.
What is the Big Six?
The ‘Big Six’ is the the name used to refer to the six most popular energy suppliers in Great Britain. As a group, they have and continue to dominate the UK energy markets, with an estimated market share of around 85%. These companies have been largely uncontested for years; however, since the emergence of a group of serious competitors, usually referred to as ‘smaller’ or ‘independent’ suppliers, the Big Six have had their work cut out for them.
- The Big Six suppliers are as follows:
Why are they so popular?
This question is much harder to answer nowadays, but their popularity sprung out of their early arrival to the UK energy market following privatisation in 1990. These six companies are the result of the large scale purchase of regional gas and electricity boards that were once the monopolies in their respective areas. Now these are all composite parts of the Big Six.
Their currently popularity is perhaps due to their household name status, especially the likes of British Gas, that is by far the most popular supplier. People have been scared to switch to an unheard-of-name for years; however, this fear is rapidly disappearing as the British public get more tired of rising energy bills.
It appears that smaller energy suppliers are generally the cheapest on the market, with a far superior level of customer service. But, as they are not as heard-of, people are still reluctant to switch away from the familiar, even if it would save them hundreds per year.
Are they cheaper?
As energy prices change, usually, every month, it is hard to say if they are cheaper or not, but in general, they are not. Eon and Npower are two of the companies that, every now and again, release an extremely cheap tariff that beats even the smaller suppliers, but the rest of them usually hang around the same sort of price, that gradually rises year on year.
The Big Six have received a huge amount of negative comments regarding their overpriced tariffs and reluctance to go any lower in recent years. And, despite the rising level of competition, they haven’t seemed to become any more competitive.
Customer service satisfaction is certainly not the strong suit of the Big Six. They seem to come out as mediocre at best on all of the customer surveys available. The biggest in circulation at present, the ‘Which? Energy Survey’, sees the Big Six all rank below 55% satisfaction. The highest is EDF Energy, that ranked 22nd out of the 31 suppliers reviewed.
Trustpilot can be a cruel mistress in the best of situations, but smaller suppliers don’t seem to have the issues that Big Six do, in general. Below you can see the ratings that were given to the Big Six suppliers, respectively, through Trustpilot:
When we compare this with an independent supplier, however, such as First Utility, who have a 70% satisfaction rating, we can see that it’s not just Trustpilot, it is the company.