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By Sarah Ingrams
Article 28 of 29
Utilita is a medium-sized energy supplier that specialises in pay-as-you-go (PAYG) prepayment smart meters. 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, it claims.
Thanks to its smart-metering technology, Utilita’s customers can top up online, by mobile app and text message, as well as over the phone or at a PayPoint outlet.
Set up in 2003, Utilita now has approximately 610,000 customers, many of which the company claims have joined it through word of mouth. Utilita says it keeps things simple with a ‘fair price’ and ‘easy-to-understand product’.
In January 2019, it took on 31,000 customers from failed supplier Our Power. If you were a customer, Utilita will contact you in the coming days. Utilita has committed to ‘making significant improvements in its complaints handling and answering of phone call by the end of March’, improving service for both current and new customers, Ofgem said.
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 11th out of 30 energy companies rated by 7,429 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey.
Customers were particularly satisfied with its online customer service,which was rated an impressive five 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
Utilita equals the top-scoring energy company’s star rating for online customer service. Last year, this was the aspect its customers rated least well, suggesting customers have seen improvements here.
Customers were less positive about the accuracy of Utilita’s bills, which were rated three stars out of five.
When we conducted a snapshot investigation into energy company customer waiting times, it took Utilita 1min 33sec to respond to live chat messages, on average. That's not long to wait but the fastest firm responded in 10 seconds on average. Plus Utilita's live chat was unavailable on several occasions we tried.
It was much slower when we phoned, taking 24 minutes, 19 seconds on average to pick up the phone. This made it the second-slowest firm in our investigation to answer its customers’ calls.
Utilita had the highest number of complaints per 1,000 customers in the first three months of last year, compared with other energy suppliers. However, it resolved an impressive 86% of them within two days.
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 and then a lower one thereafter.
Utilita customers with smart meters have access to emergency credit and friendly credit:
- Emergency Credit – customers can access £15 of credit when their balance is £0 and they can’t top up. You pay this back when you next top-up.
- Friendly Credit – if you run out of credit in the evening (between 2pm and 10am the following day), at the weekend or on a bank holiday, your electricity and gas supply won't be cut off. This gives you time to top-up.
Pros: Fairly fast to respond on live chat and customers rate its online customer service highly
Cons: Its live chat isn’t reliably available
Utilita electricity sources
Utilita in the news
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 will 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.
September: Energy regulator Ofgem revealed that it's examining how Utilita and three other energy companies deal with customer complaints. This follows the results of Ofgem's complaints handling survey which found some suppliers have 'unacceptably low' customer satisfaction for 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 per year to the average customer's bill.
December: Utilita refunded customers more than £3.61m, which it had overcharged them. Energy regulator Ofgem said Utilita failed to cut prices of prepayment tariffs for some smart meter customers sufficiently when the price cap was introduced in April. Utilita said around 348,000 customers were affected due to technical issues and have been reimbursed.
September: Utilita announced a price cut, reducing the average dual fuel customer’s bill by 1.8% (or £19.17 per year).
April: Utilita increased its electricity prices and cut its gas prices, resulting in an overall £30 increase per year for the average customer. It blamed rising wholesale electricity prices, the government’s prepayment price cap and the cost of government schemes.
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