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Best and worst energy companies

Energy companies: Which? Recommended Providers

By Sarah Ingrams

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Energy companies: Which? Recommended Providers

Energy suppliers have to be on top of their game to earn Which? Recommended Provided status. Find out what it takes to become an energy WRP, plus which three energy firms won our award in 2020.

The accolade of Which? Recommended Provider for energy is only awarded to the companies that we’re confident meet the highest standards, are loved by those who use them, and don’t overcharge customers.

It’s not easy to achieve. If no companies live up to our high standards, we’re not afraid to leave the industry empty-handed. In 2017 there were no energy WRPs.

Read on to find out which three suppliers are Which? Recommended Providers for energy in 2020, how we assess companies for the award, and which companies narrowly missed out this year.

Which? Recommended Providers for energy 2020

For the first time ever, we’ve awarded three companies Which? Recommended Provider status. These are Octopus Energy, Pure Planet and So Energy.

All three passed our tough assessments (we've got more detail on these below), which include analysis of pricing and complaints.

Octopus Energy has been a WRP twice before, while So Energy has previously come close. Pure Planet, though, was included in our energy companies’ satisfaction survey for the first time this year and has immediately impressed the Which? energy experts.

Customers were more likely to rank Octopus Energy’s customer service, complaints handling and clarity of bills excellent than customers of any other firm in our survey. 

Both of our other WRPs had stand out points too. Pure Planet had the highest proportion of customers who rated it excellent value for money, while So Energy was the fastest to respond on the phone and by email in our snapshot investigation.

Find out more in our dedicated reviews for:

To help you pick the best of the three for you, we’ve compared the three Which? Recommended Providers on various criteria below.

Which energy suppliers came close to WRP status?

Ebico and Bulb had the next-highest customer scores after Octopus Energy. But Ebico scored below average in our procedures and practices assessment and so missed out on the award. It wasn't always easy to find information on its website, its website wasn't as accessible as we'd have liked, and it offers  less social media customer service than competitors.

We also need WRPs to be above average in our performance assessments, which look at customer waiting times on the phone and online, as well as complaints. Bulb fell down on this criteria, as the second-slowest firm to answer the phone in our snapshot investigation into energy company waiting times. It took more than 19 minutes on average. We also found that its live chat was unavailable on most of the occasions we tried to use it.

People’s Energy, Powershop and Ecotricity were also close contenders. All scored well in our customer survey, but neither People's Energy nor Ecotricity provided information for our procedures and practices assessment. 

Meanwhile Powershop scored below average in our performance assessment. This includes resolving complaints; Powershop managed to resolve less than 30% on the same or next working day between January and June 2019. The best firms managed more than 90%.

Co-operative Energy, Engie and Ovo Energy finished in joint ninth position, but missed out on WRP status despite positive customer feedback. None passed our pricing analysis, while Engie also fell short of the average in our procedures and practices assessment and performance assessment.

Which? Recommended Provider criteria

Our energy satisfaction survey is the first piece in the puzzle for aspiring Which? Recommended Providers. Companies must be among the highest scorers, based on feedback from their customers. See the full results of our energy satisfaction survey 2020.

In addition to our satisfaction survey results, we also carry out detailed analysis of energy companies' procedures, practices and prices. We award Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) status to those companies which pass all of our criteria, so we're confident that they're the best of the best and won't let you down.

To become a Which? Recommended Provider, an energy supplier must:

  • Be in the top group of companies as rated by their customers.
  • In the past year, have had no fines or sanctions brought against them by, or have made redress payments in arrangement with, regulatory bodies such as Ofgem and the Advertising Standards Authority.
  • Follow procedures and practices that we think are in the best interest of the consumer. We score energy companies against a set of 21 criteria that cover the main elements of the consumer journey, including: complaints processes, billing, customer service and account management.
  • Be better than average for call and online waiting times based on our 2019 snapshot investigation into energy company waiting times, and for complaints based on the number they receive and how fast they resolve them (according to Ofgem data).
  • Pass our final price analysis. Energy firms must have a tariff in the cheapest part of the market for low, medium and high use for the average user across Great Britain. They must also not have a variable tariff in the most expensive band.

Previous energy WRPs

Flow Energy and Ovo Energy are the only other two energy firms to have previously been Which? Recommended Providers. Both received the award in 2016, but Ovo Energy lost it when it raised its prices. Ovo Energy was also our very first WRP in 2015. There were no WRPs for energy in 2017.

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