Specialist energy companies give best feed-in tariff service; E.on gives worst
Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 August 2012 at 2:16 pm
Questions and complaints about energy companies and how the service they deliver to feed-in tariff (FIT) customers regularly pop up in our inbox and in comments on blogs. When people get solar panels, or other microgeneration technology, they often just sign up with their existing supplier. But our new survey demonstrates, this may not be the sensible way to go.
The good news is that well over half of the people responding to our survey are happy with the service they get, rating it good (26%) or excellent (36%). Clear winners were Good Energy* and Ecotricity* which were both rated excellent by the majority of their customers. (This was also the case for Green Energy and Utility Warehouse, although they had lower numbers responding).
Biggest loser was E.on, which was declared poor (37%) or diabolical (34%) by the 72% of its customers. Two thirds of the people who rated their FIT supplier diabolical are E.ON customers. Comments on why they gave that rating include:
“I’m still waiting for confirmation of my registration, 5 months after submitting it.”
“It took 9 months to get the first payment and then only after I took the matter to the regulator. They lost my registration, gave me a wrong FIT number and kept saying they would sort it out but never did.”
“E.on have taken months to make payments and blame their updating of their systems. This has been going on for many many months and they are using this as an excuse for poor service. As someone who spent over £12,000 on a solar system from E.on I don’t expect to wait months for payments.”
Most of the complaints we get are about how long companies take to pay. Surprisingly this didn't rate top of the key components of good customer service from a FIT supplier. It was third, with 70% of respondents saying it is vital, after replying to emails (81%), and knowledgeable staff (78%).
Having struggled in the past to get energy companies to tell me what their payment terms are**, I thought I'd ask customers what they think they are, and whether their feed-in tariff supplier meets them. The results were interesting!
Just three of E.on’s customers said that payments exactly met its terms, compared to 82% who say they were slower. However, when asked 'how many weeks after the deadline for reading the meter does your FIT supplier pay you?', those three people all gave a different answer (6, 7 and 8 weeks respectively). The range of when other respondents say they were paid goes from 2 weeks to 12+ after a meter reading.
Good Energy's customers, while much happier, are not much clearer about their payment terms (it's 10 weeks from receipt of meter reading). 92% of its customers say that it met the terms. However, when asked what the terms are, the answers ranged from two to 12+ weeks.
This leads me to believe that although payment time is what people complain about most, it isn't actually the aspect of the service that makes them happy or unhappy. If FIT suppliers have knowledgeable staff who answer the phone and respond to emails promptly, and register the system in a timely manner, then payment time is much less of an issue.
The good news is that if you are not getting the level of service you expect, you can change your FIT supplier. You do not have to use the same company as you use for your electricity supply.
More information about energy companies and FITs from YouGen
* These are affiliate links. If you switch to one of these companies having clicked this link YouGen will receive a small commission, which helps to cover the cost of running the website.
**The ones that bothered to come back to me were Good Energy (10 weeks), Co-operative Energy (6-8 weeks), Ecotricity (6-8 weeks), nPower (60 days).
Click on the graph and table above to enlarge them and see the breakdown of responses.By Cathy Debenham
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
23 comments - read them below or add one