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Shell Energy (formerly First Utility)
By Sarah Ingrams
Article 22 of 29
Shell Energy is the new name for First Utility. First Utility launched in 2008 and is now one of the largest energy providers outside of the 'Big Six'.
First Utility rebranded as Shell Energy in March 2018, a year after it was bought out by Shell. It currently supplies around 700,000 homes. But that number is set to rise to close to one million, after Shell Energy announced that it has bought Hudson Energy Supply, the parent company of supplier Green Star Energy in October 2019.
Shell Energy says all customers now get 100% renewable electricity, as well as discounts on fuel at Shell service stations.
First Utility originally launched in 2008 and grew quickly, thanks to market-leading energy deals. It was the first UK company to start introducing smart meters.
Usio Energy customers were switched to the brand in October 2018, after the smaller supplier stopped trading.
Read on to find out more about Shell Energy. Or see how its prices compare by using Which? Switch to find the cheapest gas and electricity.
Shell Energy: what First Utility customers need to know
If you're a customer of First Utility, your supplier is now called Shell Energy. Since it's a change of name, rather than a new supplier, your gas and electricity supply won't be interrupted.
Your tariff and direct debit payments will stay the same too, and any credit or debit you have built up won't change either. Your bank statement will show 'Shell Energy'. But you'll be buying 100% renewable electricity instead (scroll down to see how this compares with First Utility's fuel mix previously).
As a Shell Energy customer, you can get 3% discount on fuel at Shell service stations. This is valid on up to 60 litres of fuel per household per month.
Shell Go+ rewards programme will give customers 'personalised offers' and 'other surprises and rewards', Shell said.
You can contact Shell Energy on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0330 094 5800 if you have any questions.
First Utility and Shell Energy customer score
Our latest energy companies satisfaction survey was conducted before First Utility changed its name to Shell Energy. However, existing customers remain on the same tariffs and prices (albeit with renewable electricity), with the same customer service. So it's still useful to see how First Utility's customers rate their supplier.
First Utility came 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 and Shell Energy score breakdown
Below we reveal the breakdown of First Utility - now Shell Energy'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 Shell Energy compares with other energy companies – click to see the full results of the best and worst energy companies.
Which? verdict on First Utility and Shell Energy
Shell Energy is among the largest of the smaller suppliers. Set up in 2008 as First Utility, it grew rapidly thanks to its competitively priced deals that often topped the energy-deal tables.
Before it rebranded as Shell Energy, customers rated the firm pretty well across the board, but they particularly liked 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.'
There is 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 took 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 and Shell Energy electricity sources
First Utility and Shell Energy in the news
October: Shell Energy bought Hudson Energy Supply, including its domestic retail arm Green Star Energy, in October 2019. It is reported to have paid up to £8.5million.
Shell Energy will gain 200,000 household customers.
June: Shell Energy will pay customers a total of £190,000 compensation after Ofgem found that First Utility had overcharged some customers between January and March 2019.
Some 12,000 customer accounts will receive £10 per fuel to refund the amount that they were incorrectly charged above the default or standard tariff cap, plus compensation.
Another 5,600 accounts will receive £5 compensation per fuel because their requests to switch to a cheaper payment method were delayed, so that they paid more than the level of the price cap for longer.
Shell Energy will also pay £200,000 into Ofgem's redress fund. Find out if you're due compensation and how you'll get it.
March: First Utility rebranded as Shell Energy. Shell said all 700,000 customers would automatically have 100% renewable electricity as part of their tariffs, as well as a discount at Shell service stations.
First Utility also 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.
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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