SSE Swalec Is Now Ovo Energy: Questions Answered

SSE is one of the UK’s biggest energy suppliers. In addition to supporting renewable energy and community events, they’re known for being the best of the bunch, with lower energy prices and better service than their Big Six competitors. But do they really deserve the hype? Read on to find out.

SSE customer service and reviews

SSE is known as a "Big Six" supplier with the best customer service, but are they really so impressive?

While SSE may fare significantly better than other huge energy companies like British Gas and Npower, they’re not very impressive when compared to the full market. Many of the independent suppliers that have entered the market outscore SSE across the board, including customer service.

SSE’s less than stellar marks can be seen most dramatically on Trustpilot. The gas and electricity supplier has earned a miserable 1.4 out of 10. Even for a site known for housing customer complaints, that’s nothing to brag about. A full 81% of reviews rank SSE as ‘bad’, the worst possible score on the site.

Just received my final energy bill. Apparently we owe them over 300 pounds?! … The smart meter has zero correlation with the energy actually used. We went on holiday… and apparently used more energy than usual! … Rubbish customer service. Always on hold for over 30 mins… DO NOT USE SSE… - Michaela with SSE

The most common themes among SSE’s negative reviews are unexpected extremely high gas and electricity bills and an inability to explain to customers why their bills have increased. This is common among many of the larger electricity and gas suppliers as they frequently start customers off with a more competitive tariff, only to quickly shift them to a much more expensive variable tariff after a few months.

Is your energy tariff too expensive?You can save hundreds of pounds on your energy bill just by switching supplier. Talk to one of our energy experts and see how much you could save. Call 020 3936 0059 or get a free callback now.

Another frequent topic among disgruntled customers is the extremely long waiting time when trying to deal with issues over the phone. Some customers report being left on hold for over 30 minutes, only to be cut off and have to start the process all over again!

These complaints are also consistent with studies showing that SSE has one of the longest waiting times when it comes to dealing with customer complaints over the phone. In fact, the average caller had to wait a full ten minutes in order to speak to a representative.

SSE’s saving grace is that if you’re patient enough to speak to an SSE employee, you may receive polite and friendly service. SSE does seem to put emphasis on teaching their employees to be affable and helpful, hence their reputation as the best of the Big Six. Unfortunately, being polite doesn’t mean that SSE representatives can necessarily solve your problem. Several reviews mention very respectful employees who weren’t the least bit helpful.

Still, those strengths did manage to help out a bit in Which?’s review of SSE. The company was able to score 4 out of 5 stars on both online and phone customer service and was the only Big Six company to do so. More troublingly, that score was brought down by lower rankings concerning bill accuracy, bill clarity and value for money.

So in the end, how important is SSE’s status as the best-reviewed Big Six company? To put it succinctly, SSE’s biggest claim to fame is being the best of the worst.

Fuel mix

Beyond being an energy supplier, SSE also invests in producing energy from renewable resources. Their subsidiary, SSE Renewables, has invested in construction and developing:

  • Onshore wind farms
  • Offshore wind farms
  • Hydro-power

So does SSE’s supply side reflect that commitment? The short answer is no.

Only 21% of SSE’s electricity comes from renewable energy, which is lower than the UK national average of 29%. With 65% of their electricity coming from gas, they’re using a full 24% more natural gas than the UK average.

The silver lining is that SSE also uses significantly less coal, which produces more CO2 than gas, and nuclear-powered energy, which produces radioactive waste materials.

With the costs of generating electricity from renewables roughly on a par with those of natural gas, it’s surprising to see such a low percentage of renewables in their fuel mix.

Compared to years past, SSE’s fuel mix may actually be less green than in the past! As recently as last year the firm was only using 37% of natural gas and a slightly higher 23% of renewables. On the other hand they’ve also strongly decreased the 12% of coal and 25% of nuclear power. Even so, the shift to a primarily natural gas can hardly be considered ‘green’.

Contact number

Need to get in touch with SSE? If you are looking for information about the warm home discount you can find the contact information on our dedicated page. Below you’ll find their general customer service phone number, but depending on your inquiry it may not be the best option. You can call SSE on 0345 026 3568 Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and on Saturdays from 8am to 2pm.

As one of the UK’s biggest electricity and gas suppliers, SSE has a tonne of contact phone numbers, emails and chat options that can seem overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve gone through the list and sorted out just the useful bits on our SSE contact page.

If you would like to login to your SSE account, it's a simple as entering your login credentials. You will have created these yourself when you signed up for your account, however, if you have not yet set up your online account, you can do so simply by entering a few bits of simple information on the 'Create your account now' section. Once logged in, you will be able to do the following:

  • See usage history.
  • View past bills and statements.
  • Submit a meter reading.
  • Edit personal information.

If you have forgotten part of your login credentials, you can reset them by clicking 'Forgotten your password?' on the login screen. Click the link below to login to your SSE account.

SSE account login

Share price and financials

SSE is one of only two Big Six companies that is British owned, and trades on the London Exchange as ‘SSE’.

Looking at SSE’s share price since it first began trading in 1992, its value has increased fairly steadily from an initial value of about £250 up to £1,560 in 2013, following a dramatic dip that coincided with the global financial crisis of 2008. This overall increase in value corresponds with the growth of the energy sector, as well as the UK economy in general during the same time period.

More recently however, the tides have begun to change for SSE. Over the past several years SSE's share prices have seen a pretty steady fall. In the last five years the shares have lost over £400 in value as the UK energy industry writhes in uncertainty. That trend seems set to continue and most likely to quicken as Brexit looms over the energy industry.

About SSE

sse infographic

SSE, formerly Scottish and Southern Energy, is one of just two of the Big Six companies that are British owned. It was formed in 1998 from the merger of two public sector utility authorities, ‘North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board’ and ‘Southern Electricity Board’. This took place among a wave of energy companies being privatised at the time.

SSE has a history of producing renewable energy, and in 2018 launched SSE Renewables as a separate company solely dedicated to producing renewable energy with a focus on wind and hydro-power.

Throughout last year, rumours surged that SSE would be merging with a struggling npower. Ultimately, the merger was scrapped and npower is now in the process of merging with Eon.

Despite facing a large loss of customers over the last few years, SSE is said to provide gas and electric for around 5.9 million homes. This has created employment for around 20,000 people and made the company a revenue of £7,331.6m from generation and supply in 2018. This huge framework also ensures they have a large impact on a local level.

SSE SwalecSwalec was the South Wales Electricity board supply and distribution company that was bought by SSE in 2000 for £210m. SSE Swalec was formed as a result of this deal but has since been purchased by Ovo.

SSE Hydro Arena and events

As one of a very few large British owned energy companies in the UK, SSE has attempted to capitalise on its position by participating in and sponsoring numerous public events.

SSE Hydro Area lit up at night
The SSE Hydro Arena. Source: SSE Enterprise

Their most famous investment is certainly the SSE Hydro Arena, a huge multi-purpose arena in Glasgow. It can hold up to 13,000 spectators and frequently hosts some of the world’s most popular musicians and performers. As of 2017 it ranked as the fourth busiest arena on Earth!

SSE also has an extremely large presence in the British sporting world, endorsing and sponsoring a large number of sporting teams, leagues and initiatives, including the Women’s FA Cup, the Scottish Hydro Challenge, and football team St Johnstone FC.

The company also runs family events in localities around the UK, including their ‘You’ve Been Served’ event in Glasgow celebrating Andy Murray’s return to the city after winning Wimbledon for the second time. All of SSE’s publicity events can be viewed on their YouTube channel.

SSE rewards

One of SSE’s most exciting offerings is their SSE rewards programme. It is a free service only available to SSE customers that offers exclusive pre-sales to concerts and events at SSE Arenas in Glasgow, Belfast and Wembley; as well as other rewards. You can also apply for the chance to win access to SSE lounges and other one-off prizes.

If you’re an SSE Airtricity customer, they have a separate rewards programme offering similar rewards to customers in Ireland.

SSE Airtricity and top up

yellow tick insid of a blue box

If you’re an SSE customer anywhere on the island of Ireland your energy is supplied by SSE Airtricity, the Irish subsidiary of SSE. Although owned by the same corporation, you should be aware that the tariffs and services offered by SSE Airtricity are somewhat different from those of the British SSE. The biggest difference is that many more homes in Ireland have top up (also known as prepaid or pay-as-you-go) meters.

If you live in Northern Ireland be aware that SSE Airtricity Electricity and SSE Airtricity Gas have specific contact information for customers in the area. That’s probably because of the unique energy needs of the region, as there are many differences in the energy market between Northern Ireland and Britain.

Smart meter

The United Kingdom is currently undergoing a national rollout of smart meters. It was originally set to be completed by 2020, but it seems clear that deadline will need to be pushed back. There has been some progress towards getting a smart meter in every UK home, but large gas and electricity suppliers like SSE will need to make a larger effort.

a gold smart meter with a blue lightning bolt

Here at Selectra we recommend getting a smart meter for your home. The reason why is the best one possible: to save time and money. A smart meter monitors your energy use in nearly-real time and eliminates the need for manual meter readings, saving you time. It also eliminates the need for your energy provider to send you a high estimated billing, which saves you money!

All smart meters deployed by SSE are free and unique to their company, but don't worry if you want to switch afterwards. Your smart meter will work with any other energy supplier, regardless of the tariff. It may be switched to 'dumb mode', however, if your new tariff is not smart meter eligible.

Looking for a Smart Meter?Our energy experts can set your business up with a smart meter tariff hassle-free. All you have to do is enjoy the savings. Call 020 3936 0059 or get a free callback now.

SSE jobs

If you are thinking about getting a job or starting your career at SSE, your first step is to see the available vacancies that they currently have on offer. These are not just within Great Britain; you can also see available jobs in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. To name a few, here are some of the industries in which you could begin working:

  • Customer service
  • Business support
  • Engineering
  • Construction
  • Renewable energy
  • Smart metering

To get more information you can click the following link and visit the SSE jobs page.

See vacancies

Our verdict

Pros Cons
  SSE Rewards   High tariff rates
  Community engagement   Poor customer service reviews

SSE does have some exciting benefits and highlights; they’ve created a subsidiary dedicated exclusively to renewable energy, they offer their customers exclusive rewards, and they’re very involved in community events.

Unfortunately for them, their energy offerings are much less exciting. Looking at their tariff rates, customer service and fuel mix, the only compliment we can give SSE is that they’re not the absolute worst among energy providers. Despite some positive add-ons, we can’t give SSE a vote of confidence.

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