Cheap electricity suppliers: can they be trusted, and what is the catch

Utility bills are one of the most significant monthly expenses of every Briton. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of little-known small suppliers that offer profitable prices for their services.

But can you really trust them?

Problems with customer service

Iresa attracted the attention of thousands of families, offering incredibly cheap tariffs for gas and electricity. Nevertheless, recently the company had some problems. First, the supplier closed its doors for new customers for several months to resolve outstanding issues, secondly, a poor approach to handling complaints was noticed, and Iresa cannot provide payment through a bank account (direct debit) to its customers or request a one-time payment within the next three months.

Some difficulties related to the processing of customer calls arose in the company. Iresa extended the working period of the call center to shorten the waiting time to five minutes, and to answer missed calls until the end of the next business day. The company responds to customer emails only on the fourth or fifth day.

If the supplier does not demonstrate significant service improvements, then decisive measures, including revocation of the license will be taken.

Some suppliers ceased operations

While Iresa's problems are ficused on their approach to customer service, other suppliers have bigger problems.

This year, Future Energy, which mainly served Yorkshire and the Northeast, declined, leaving 10,000 customers in limbo. This followed the collapse of companies such as Brighter World Energy and GB Energy in 2016.

Last year, Ofgem said it was considering introducing stricter rules for new energy suppliers.

Can I trust a "small" supplier?

It is important not to "taste" all small suppliers. If there are minor problems with one supplier, such as waiting for a response to your email, you do not need to immediately change the company, because there is no guarantee that others will not have more serious difficulties.

First of all, you need to find the best deal on the price comparison site, where a large selection of electricity companies is provided. Then, if you are tempted to switch to a new supplier, you need to do a little homework. Find out information about customer service and handling complaints, which are regularly published on the website

Ombudsman Services keeps track of the details of what complaints are being received, how fast they are processed, and what compensations has been paid if necessary.

You can also contact the Trustpilot platform to read customer feedback on various suppliers.

What happens if my supplier goes bankrupt?

If your supplier stops working, the good news for you is that you will not suddenly loose gas and light. Instead, you will go to the provider selected by Ofgem. Then you can go to another company without any penalties, although you will have to wait until the new supplier contacts you before switching begins.

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