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Bristol Energy Reviews: What’s the Verdict?

Bristol energy reviews

Bristol Energy is a new type of energy supplier: owned by Bristol City Council, its profits go back into the community, not into the pockets of its shareholders. Does this ‘not-for-profit’ attitude hinder or improve its level of customer service? Read on to see Bristol Energy reviews and find out.


Bristol Energy reviews

Customer satisfaction in regard to energy suppliers is made up of a number of factors: customer service, value for money, billing and payment, and complaints handling. Let’s work through each of these areas individually to give you a better idea of what Bristol Energy is doing well and where customers feel it could use a bit of extra work.

Customer service

First up, customer service - a vital factor in making a good energy supplier. This is something you never appreciate when things are going right, but as soon as something goes wrong (which can happen even with the best suppliers), you want it solved as quickly and painlessly as possible. So, how does Bristol Energy measure up in this area? It would seem it’s doing pretty well.

Since the moment it started trading, Bristol Energy quickly built a reputation for delivering a good standard of customer service. Customers praise how friendly and helpful the call centre staff are, as well as how effectively any problems are resolved. Which?’s annual energy suppliers review backs up this sentiment, with customers giving Bristol Energy 4/5 stars for both phone and online customer service.

Bristol Energy have always been friendly and helpful and patient with all of my queries. I couldn’t rate them higher. Deborah

Call wait times play a big part in delivering good customer service. Nobody has time to be waiting on hold for ages, meaning long response times often bring lots of complaints and unsatisfied customers. Bristol Energy neither shines nor performs appalling in this area. Which? report a call wait time of 2.2 minutes, while Citizens Advice found an average call waiting time of 3.34 minutes.

Neither of these are particularly bad results (although over three minutes can feel like a lifetime when listening to bad on-hold music!), but there is room for a bit of improvement. A few similar sized suppliers have call wait times under the two minute mark.

Need to contact Bristol Energy? You find all the relevant contact details on Bristol Energy profile page.

Besides phone and online customer service, Bristol Energy has another trick up its sleeve, face-to-face customer service! Thanks to the Bristol Energy Hub, customers can drop in and talk to its energy experts during its opening hours (Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm, Wed; 10am-5pm). While this is only practical for customers living in or close to the Bristol area, it’s a great extra service to offer and helps customers get their issues solved quickly.

Value for money: tariffs and prices

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Value for money is Bristol Energy’s strongest point amongst customers. In Which?’s annual review, this was the only factor that they awarded the supplier 5 stars for.

Now, value for money does not necessarily mean rock bottom prices - we have found that, although Bristol Energy strive to offer cheap energy (and do so), other suppliers do have lower prices. Rather value for money means that customers are happy with the price they pay for the overall service they receive from Bristol Energy.

Since moving to Bristol Energy I have saved so much money. I was fed up with being ripped off by the big companies and moved to BE (Bristol Energy) and have never looked back. Susanne

Despite not being the cheapest, Bristol Energy’s prices remain competitive and under Ofgem’s price cap. The fact that customers rank the company so highly for value for money proves that its prices are reasonable, especially when compared to the Big Six.

Billing

We go from Bristol Energy’s strongest point to perhaps its weakest point: billing and payment methods. This is not a problem for all customers. The majority seem more than satisfied with the accuracy and clarity of their bills, with reviewers on Which? awarding Bristol Energy 4/5 stars for both bill accuracy and clarity, and Citizens Advice also giving the supplier a 4/5 for the accuracy of its bills.

However, from our own research we have seen that its billing system is one of the main focuses of bad reviews online. Customers complain about being charged too much, as well as being accused of owing the supplier money.

Really bad. Understaffed or badly staffed. The bill system is a mess. Marti

Giving credit to Bristol Energy, it’s acknowledged the dissatisfaction of customers in this area and is working to correct it. In an attempt to increase the accuracy of bills, it has recently introduced quarterly billing for customers on direct debit payments (although this change in itself is causing complaints).

energy bills

In the case of inaccurate bills, the fault doesn’t always lie purely with the supplier. Estimated readings might be used to calculate bills when meter readings havebeen entered late or not correctly. This estimated usage might be more than the customer actually used, therefore creating an inaccurate bill.

In other instances, bills are not actually wrong. Customers are simply not aware that they have used so much energy and therefore complain about the price they have been charged. Bristol Energy is also working to improve its service based on these issues:

  • To reduce reliance on estimated readings it’s installing smart meters and developing measures to improve meter reading submission methods for more accuracy.

  • To help customers keep track of their energy usage and not be surprised by their bills, it’s again installing smart meters and directing customers to energy charities that can give them advice on how to be more energy efficient on a daily basis.

Did you know you can track your energy usage on your Bristol Energy online account? Head to our Bristol Energy login page for details on how to access your account and take advantage of this service.

Overall, while Bristol Energy has flaws in its billing performance, it’s working hard to correct them. Moreover, this is not an issue that affects all customers. Most receive accurate bills that they understand, as Citizens Advice’s research reports, 92.2% of customers get their bills on time and 95.7% received an accurate bill at least once during a year.

Complaint handling

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Another key part in reviewing an energy supplier is looking at how it deals with complaints. Bristol Energy is pretty efficient on this front. For the second quarter of 2019 (April to June), it solved 93.7% of the complaints it received either on the same day or the next working day, and managed to resolve nearly 100% (98.89%) within the eight week target set by Ofgem.

While Bristol Energy does get more complaints now than in its first year of trading (which is normal in relation to the growth of its customer base), it has actually become more efficient at dealing with them. For example, despite receiving less complaints in the last quarter of 2017 (October to December) than in the second quarter of 2019, it only managed to solve 86% on the same or next day, and 98% in eight weeks. This is positive news and shows the supplier’s customer service is not suffering as it grows.

From Bristol Energy’s complaints data, we can also see the main reasons why customers have complained in April to June 2019 (the latest data that is available). These are insightful as they can show us the potential problems you could face as a customer. The table below shows the main complaints alongside how Bristol Energy is working to improve in these areas.

Complaint
Percentage
Actions to improve
Direct debit payments 8.5%
  • reviewing process to make sure it’s fair and transparent
Energy consumption 7.5%
  • Helping customers keep track of their energy usage
  • Allowing customers on a fixed rate tariff to swap to a cheaper fixed rate tariff
Agent error 3.6%
  • Developing new training methods
  • Improving quality control
Billing cycle 3.6%
  • Moved to a quarterly billing cycle
  • Explaining the benefits of new system to existing customers and ensuring new customers are aware when signing up
Estimated readings 3.1%
  • Installing smart meters
  • Developing better meter reading submission methods to improve accuracy

Bristol Energy customer reviews

After looking at Bristol Energy reviews by category, we now want to take a quick look at how the supplier ranks as a whole online. Do customer reviews mainly praise or condemn the energy supplier? To do this we will look at opinions left on two of the UK’s best known review sites in the energy sector: Trustpilot and Which?.

Trustpilot reviews

On Trustpilot, Bristol Energy has a comfortable overall rating of 3.9/5. 74% of reviewers rank the supplier as either excellent or good (the top two available rankings), with most praising its reasonable prices, and good, friendly and helpful customer service. As one customer sums up very succinctly:

Bristol Energy are easy to deal with and quick to answer the phone. Their website is clear and intuitive. The billing is straightforward. Rob

Despite these positive comments, 17% of reviewers give the company the worst rating of bad. These negative experiences focus on the billing system (as mentioned earlier), but the small percentage of these bad reviews hint that these poor experiences are quite individual and not particularly widespread.

Which?

In Which?’s annual review of UK energy suppliers, 7,429 members of the public ranked Bristol Energy a respectable 8th out of 30 companies (tied with Bulb and Ecotricity). Not a bad position in any sense (it beat all of the Big Six), but it does show that there is room for improvement in the eyes of customers.

Which? reviewers gave Bristol Energy an overall customer rating score of 72%. In its five star ratings, the supplier only achieved top marks for value for money. All other factors considered - bill accuracy, bill clarity, phone customer service, online customer service, and helping you understand and reduce energy use - received a 4/5 rating. All this goes to show that while Bristol Energy does not perform badly in any category, it could benefit from developing and enhancing its services in certain areas.


Selectra’s review summary and score

 
 
Good value for money Complaints with billing system
Helpful and efficient customer service Could improve call wait time

Bristol Energy is still a fairly new energy supplier and has seen great growth during its first few years of trading. Despite this, it has maintained a good level of customer service and even improved its efficiency with handling complaints. Customers regard it as great value for money, but issues with billing and room for improvement across most customer service areas are holding the supplier back. As a result, Selectra gives Bristol Energy a respectable review score of 3/5 stars.

Bristol Energy: reviews - ★★★

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