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Energy company reviews

Utilita

By Sarah Ingrams

Article 32 of 34

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Utilita

Utilita specialises in pay-as-you-go (PAYG) prepayment smart meters and claims it’s the ‘smart energy expert’. Is Utilita the right supplier for you?

Utilita says it gives customers ‘total control’ over their energy, and has been installing smart prepayment meters for more than 10 years. Now, 90% of its customers have smart meters.

Thanks to its smart-metering technology, Utilita’s customers can top up online, by mobile app and text, as well as over the phone or at a PayPoint outlet.

Set up in 2003, Utilita now has around 780,000 customers, many of which the company says have joined it through word of mouth. Utilita claims to offer a ‘simple tariff’ and ‘fair prices’ for its smart energy products.

It has opened ‘energy hubs’ in Portsmouth and Southampton where customers can top up, get energy efficiency advice and help from staff, face to face. It plans to open others in Edinburgh and the Isle of Wight in early 2020.

Utilita Extra offers customers competitions and prize draws to win vouchers and tickets to events.

Utilita recently launched Utilita Mobile which offers Sim-only, pay-as-you-go deals.

In September 2019, it took on Eversmart Energy's 29,000 customers after the smaller firm stopped trading. Find out what happens now for Eversmart Energy's customers. Utilita also acquired failed supplier Our Power's 31,000 customers in January 2019.

Tempted by Utilita? Find out if you could save money by comparing gas and electricity deals with Which? Switch – our independent energy comparison site.

Utilita customer score

Utilita came joint-20th out of 35 energy companies rated by 7,355 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey. It was joint with rival prepayment specialist Boost and Robin Hood Energy.

Customers were most satisfied with its customer service and accuracy of bills and charges, which were both rated four stars out of five.

Utilita score breakdown

The graphic below shows the breakdown of its score from our latest survey.

Find out how Utilita compares with other energy companies – see the full results of the best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on Utilita

Only the top-scoring energy company achieved a higher star rating for customer service than Utilita, showing that customers generally think well of both its online and telephone support.

This positive rating overall is despite the results of our snapshot investigation into energy company customer waiting times, where Utilita took more than 15 minutes on average to answer the phone.

And when we gave live chat a go, Utilita’s was unavailable on 11 of the 12 occasions we tried. On the one occasion it was available, it took us 12mins and 17secs to get a reply. Utilita wasn’t the only company with poor live chat availability in our snapshot investigation though – Bulb Energy also only had live chat available on only one occasion we tried.

Customers’ feedback also gave Utilita a four-star rating for how it handles complaints.

This tallies at odds with data from the energy regulator Ofgem though, which shows that Utilita only resolved a quarter or less of complaints within two days in the first half of last year. The best companies in our survey managed to solve more than 90% of the complaints they received in the same time period.

Plus, between April and June 2019, Utilita had one of the highest numbers of complaints per 1,000 customers of companies included in our survey, and solved just 13% of them in two days. After eight weeks still only 60% were sorted.

Feedback from customers in our survey about Utilita’s complaints handling were mixed.

Utilita also achieved four stars for the accuracy of its bills. Since most customers pay in advance for their gas and electricity, this indicates that they feel that what they use matches what they pay for.

All other aspects of Utilita’s service received ‘fair’ ratings from customers: value for money, how clear bills are and digital tools.

The MyUtilita app lets customers see their balance, bills, payment history, submit meter readings and change their details. Customers with smart meters can also apply for Power Up – a top-up when you’ve run out of credit.

Value for money also received a ‘fair’ rating from customers in our survey.

Utilita has different tariffs depending on whether or not you have a smart meter. Its tariffs have two unit rates, rather than a unit rate and standing charge like many tariffs from other suppliers. You pay a higher unit rate for the first few kilowatt hours of energy used per day, then a lower one thereafter.

Pros: Customer service, accurate bills and complaints handling are good, according to customers

Cons: Its live chat isn’t reliably available

Utilita electricity sources

Don't put up with high bills and poor customer service. Use Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity.

Utilita in the news

January: Ofgem opened an investigation into whether Utilita broke rules and charged prepayment customers more than it was allowed to under the price cap between May and September 2019.

September: Utilita took on 29,000 customers from Eversmart Energy after the smaller firm stopped trading.

July: Utilita customers may have missed out on £30,000 of savings on energy bills because the firm failed to meet its carbon emission reduction obligations, Ofgem announced.

Utilita didn't meet its targets to reduce carbon emissions for vulnerable households in rural areas and to insulate homes with solid walls between 2015 and 2018. It had to pay £175,000 into a redress fund and give the regulator more frequent updates in future.

Utilita said it over-delivered against some obligations and under-delivered against others.

January: Utilita took on 31,000 customers from Our Power after the smaller supplier stopped trading. It promised to improve customer service standards.

September: Energy regulator Ofgem examined how Utilita and three other energy companies deal with customer complaints.

March: Utilita used its smart-meter data to identify around 25,000 households which had self-disconnected during the cold weather. It automatically gave them £16 interest-fee credit, which they could pay back over several months.

February: Utilita told customers it would increase prices from 1 April, adding £41 a year to the average customer's bill.

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