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Other energy companies reviews

First Utility

By Sarah Ingrams

Article 10 of 29

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First Utility

First Utility launched in 2008. First Utility is one of the largest energy providers outside of the 'Big Six', supplying almost one million homes.

First Utility quickly increased its customer base after arriving on the market in 2008, thanks to market-leading energy deals. 

It was the first UK company to start introducing smart meters, which all energy companies must have offered to their customers by 2020. 

In October 2018, it acquired the customers of Usio Energy Supply after the smaller supplier stopped trading.

Can you save money by switching to First Utility? See how its prices compare by using Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity.

First Utility customer score

First Utility comes joint 16th out of 30 energy companies rated by 7,429 members of the public in the annual Which? energy supplier satisfaction survey - the biggest of its kind. The other company it tied with is Co-operative Energy.

First Utility score breakdown

Below we reveal the breakdown of First Utility's score from our latest survey. Keep reading to find out what its customer service is like, plus how its standard and cheapest tariff compare with the cheapest on the market. 

Find out how First Utility compares with other energy companiesclick to see the full results of the best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on First Utility

First Utility is the largest of the smaller suppliers. Set up in 2008, it grew rapidly, thanks to its competitively priced deals that often topped the energy-deal tables.


First Utility customers rate the firm pretty well across the board, but they particularly like the accuracy and clarity of its bills. An impressive 88% of its customers said the bill accuracy was either 'good' or 'excellent', while 82% said the same for the latter. 

Comments on this area included: 'It's really simple and easy to follow' and 'the billing is on time and always accurate.' 

First Utility has an app where customers can input their own meter readings, so there shouldn't be any estimated bills.

However, a quarter of customers said it's 'excellent' at helping them understand and reduce their energy use, resulting in a rather average three out of five stars - its lowest scoring area. Comments by respondents reflected this score: 'A few useful tips on the website but nothing I didn’t know.' 

Three quarters (78%) of customers also said it's 'good' or 'excellent' in value for money. This score is positive, but the highest rating firm for this category was So Energy, which was rated 'good' or 'excellent' by a staggering 93% of its customers for the same service.

Its standard tariff isn’t usually good value, but it does offer some cheaper deals. The cheapest deals go to smart meter customers.

Customer service, both phone and online, scored four stars.

When we tested how long First Utility takes to answer the phone to its customers in our snapshot investigation, we were left waiting on its customer service line for over 11 minutes, on average. 

It was much faster at answering our live chat queries, taking 2min 44sec on average.  

Pros: Customers generally think its bills are accurate.

Cons: It was in the top 10 slowest companies to answer the phone in our snapshot investigation. 

First Utility electricity sources

First Utility in the news

March: First Utility announced it will increase prices for customers to the maximum allowed under the new price cap from 1 April. If you’re on its standard tariff, and use a medium amount of gas and electricity, this means you could pay around £1,254 per year.

October: First Utility was chosen by Ofgem to take on the 7,000 customers of Usio Energy Supply, after the smaller company stopped trading. Ofgem said First Utility is offering Usio Energy's customers a 'competitive tariff' and will honour all credit balances.

Usio Energy Supply customers can find out more here.

strong>September: First Utility, along with three other companies, is being examined by energy regulator Ofgem over how it deals with customer complaints. This follows Ofgem's complaints handling survey, which showed some suppliers have 'unacceptably low' customer satisfaction for complaints.

June: Shell, owner of First Utility, announced a 5.9% price rise for around 165,000 customers. This will add £67 per year to the average customer’s bill. Customers on the variable tariff – First Variable – will see their bills increase from 23 July. Customers on fixed tariffs won’t be affected by the price rise. First Utility blamed the rising price of wholesale energy and policy schemes for the increase.

March: Shell completed its acquisition of First Utility - this including both the energy and broadband businesses. The  new CEO of First Utility, Colin Crooks, said First Utility is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shell and will 'build on the trusted relationships we've built with our millions of forecourt customers'.

December: Shell bought First Utility and said it plans to ‘grow and develop’ it to compete with the 'big six' energy firms. Shell already supplies wholesale gas and electricity to First Utility, and other energy companies.

February First Utility announced a 9.7% price rise on its standard variable tariff, coming into effect on 1 April. This will add around £102 onto the average bill. First Utility blamed the rise on ‘significant increases in wholesale and industry costs over the past year’. It expects 13% of its customers to be affected.

 

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