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10 November 2020

Ovo Energy

Ovo Energy joined the energy market in 2009 and now has five million customers since it bought rival SSE's energy business. Ovo says it set out to make energy cheaper, greener and simpler, but is now focused on smart technology too.
Ovo energy logo 2017 460128
Sarah Ingrams

Ovo is an independent energy company based in Bristol. It is now the second-biggest energy firm after British Gas, supplying five million customers across England, Scotland and Wales.

Ovo Energy split off its pay-as-you-go, or prepayment meter, business into a separate supplier called Boost Energy. It also took on the customers of failed supplier Spark Energy in 2018, but maintained the separate brand.

It’s investing in smart technology and services, too, including making electric storage heaters smart, creating Electric Vehicle chargers which charge your car when electricity is cheaper or in less demand, and selling home energy storage devices.

Ovo offers a small number of tariffs, all backed by 50% renewable electricity. Plus you can choose to buy 100% renewable electricity for £5 extra a month (scroll down to find out more about where Ovo sources its energy). 

It also sells a smart meter tariff, which gives customers 100% carbon neutral gas, and a tariff for electric vehicle owners, which includes a free smart charger. 

In January 2020, it agreed with energy regulator Ofgem to pay £8.9m to make up for communications and billing issues. It says it has now resolved these.

See how Ovo Energy’s prices compare with the rest of the market by using Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity deals.

Ovo Energy customer score

Ovo Energy came joint-ninth, along with Bristol Energy, Co-op Energy and Engie, out of 35 energy companies rated by 7,355 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey. A couple of years ago it was the top-scoring supplier.

Ovo Energy score breakdown

The graphic below shows the breakdown of its score from our latest survey. Its results date from before it bought SSE’s customers. SSE has separate results.

Scroll down to read the full Which? verdict on Ovo Energy, plus how its prices compare with other energy suppliers.

Find out how Ovo Energy compares with other energy companies in best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on Ovo Energy

A couple of years ago Ovo Energy was the favourite of British energy customers. It held the top spot for two years and was the first Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) for energy.

Customers are still enthusiastic about Ovo, but it’s no longer the top-rated supplier.

The clarity of its bills and its value for money are on a par with the top-scoring firms. It also achieves a respectable four stars out of five for the accuracy of its bills, customer service and handling complaints – although other firms score the full five.

Customers switch to Ovo Energy primarily for lower prices, but also for its good reputation, according to our analysis of Which? energy customer satisfaction survey data. In fact, 44% of its customers said its good reputation was one of the top reasons for choosing it – far higher than the 31% average across suppliers.

However, 18% said they switched to it for a greener or more environmentally friendly tariff. That’s lower than the 21% average across suppliers and despite Ovo’s recent marketing campaign around cutting carbon emissions.

Although Ovo’s tariffs are rarely the cheapest on the market, it pays customers between 3-5% interest on their credit balances (the rate depends how long they have been a customer).

Customers are generally positive about the customer service it provides and, when there’s trouble, Ovo is rated well for resolving complaints. In fact, Ovo has one of the best records for resolving complaints within eight weeks, according to data from the regulator Ofgem. It managed more than 99% for the first six months of 2019. The worst firms only manage to solve 70% in that time.

Ovo’s weakest area, according to customers in our survey, is its digital tools, earning a reasonable three stars out of five. While no firms achieved the full five stars, six earned four.

In our most recent energy call waiting investigation, in September and October 2020, Ovo Energy answered the phone in 6 minutes 55 seconds on average. This was just a little slower than the overall median average waiting time for all suppliers of 5 minutes 57 seconds. 

For comparison, the four slowest firms of the 31 we contacted took more than 20 minutes.

Ovo was faster to answer using live chat (3 minutes 6 seconds); again, this is very similar to the average wait time for the other 18 firms we tried to contact using this method.

Pros: Pays interest on accounts which are in credit, solves almost all complaints within eight weeks

Cons: Digital tools aren’t rated as highly as other suppliers’

Ovo Energy electricity sources

Ovo Energy in the news

August: Ovo will pay £1.2m for SSE Energy Services’ failure to meet its smart meter targets, energy regulator Ofgem revealed.

SSE didn’t install enough smart meters in its customers’ homes in 2019. But since Ovo bought the supplier earlier this year, it will pay the sum instead.

Energy firms set their own annual smart meter targets and Ofgem monitors whether they meet them.

Ovo will pay the £1.2m into Ofgem’s consumer redress fund, which helps customers in vulnerable situations and those affected by the failure.

Ovo says that it has 'significantly improved' its smart meter rollout programme since it bought SSE Energy Services in January 2020.

January: Ovo agreed to pay £8.9m for communications and billing issues, energy regulator Ofgem announced.

Around half a million customers received inaccurate annual statements, and others didn’t get one at all, between July 2015 and February 2018.

Some were over or under-charged because Ovo underestimated consumption one winter.

Some 10,000 customers were not told about renewal when their tariff ended, nor moved to new tariffs.

Around 17,500 prepayment customers were charged the wrong amount according to the price cap. Another 8,000 paid too much because Ovo failed to move them onto a new tariff when theirs ended.

Ofgem said that Ovo did not report these problems to it and was slow to put things right.

But Ovo Energy has now corrected the problems, including refunding customers who were overcharged and writing off amounts owed by customers charged at the wrong rates.

Ovo said: ‘OVO Energy holds itself to high standards, but we have not always got it right. We accept Ofgem’s findings of issues regarding estimation processes, information formatting and pricing errors.’

It says it has a new technology platform, a bigger team and new systems and practices to make sure it meets all regulations in future.

Earlier in the month, Ovo bought SSE’s household energy and services business. It will now start integrating the two firms.

Steven Fitzpatrick, CEO and founder of Ovo, said ‘There is a lot of work to do to bring the two businesses together, but we have a really strong combination of great talent, technology and customer centricity that will enable us to succeed.’

December: Ovo got the go-ahead from the regulator (the Competition and Markets Authority) to buy SSE’s household energy and services business. This will mean Ovo supplies around 3.5 million households.

It expects the purchase to be complete in January 2020. Until then, the two companies remain separate and customers won’t see any differences.

February: Ovo announced a 10% price rise for customers on its standard tariff, called Simpler Energy.

If you’re one of the 160,000 customers affected, you'll pay an extra £112 per year from 1 April.

November: Ovo Energy was chosen by Ofgem to take on Spark Energy’s 290,000 domestic customers, after the smaller supplier failed.

Ovo Energy also bought Spark Energy Ltd and kept the Spark Energy brand. Read what you need to know if you’re a Spark Energy customer.

October: Ovo Energy's second price increase in a year for customers on its Simpler Energy variable tariff meant a 6.5% price rise, adding £75, on average, to customers’ annual bills.

Ovo also scrapped its online discount, adding another £135 to the annual bill of affected customers.

It said that wholesale costs have risen by more than 15% since June.

September: Energy regulator Ofgem examined how Ovo Energy, and three other companies, dealt with customer complaints after it found some suppliers have 'unacceptably low' customer satisfaction for complaints.

April: Ovo launched the first widely available domestic electric vehicle-to-grid charger. Drivers can sell surplus energy from their electric vehicle batteries back to the grid.

It also unveiled a home energy storage battery and promoted its intelligent platform, VCharge, which remotely connects and controls batteries in consumers’ homes to create a ‘virtual power plant’.

February: Ovo was investigated by energy regulator Ofgem over the energy consumption information it gave some customers last winter. Ofgem looked into whether Ovo breached licence conditions about giving customers information about their energy use which was accurate, or based on best estimate, complete and not misleading.

Pros: Pays interest on accounts which are in credit, solves almost all complaints within eight weeks

Cons: Digital tools aren’t rated as highly as other suppliers’

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