There are lots of choices when it comes to choosing your UK Gas or Energy Company from the big players to the small independents, however how do you know who will give you the best price, the best service and ultimately how do you know who you can trust?
I’ve put together a checklist based on some of the criteria that you might want to be using in order to help you evaluate and come to a sensible conclusion regarding which gas company you want to go with.
Use Price Comparison Websites
For many people price is the most important factor when it comes to selecting a new gas provider. Price comparison websites can provide you with a relatively quick and easy way to research costs and receive a quote or estimate based upon your household. There are a number of reputable price comparison websites and I would recommend you start with either uSwitch or Which? as both provide impartial assessment and have specific tools to compare deals and prices from gas and energy companies whilst providing user friendly websites.
Price is not the only variable that can be compared or scrutinised. Due to online communities such as Money Saving Expert, public opinion can now be brought into the mix regarding the most popular energy suppliers. Find out what the general consensus is in order to build up a picture of how the company behave.
Find Out If They Have a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy
In recent years it has been the banking sector that has taken a considerable blow in terms of their perceived credibility, openness and ethical responsibilities simply because they’ve been putting themselves first and leaving financial and economical devastation in its wake. Behind the slick corporate facade and branding, does the gas company you’re considering switching to have a CSR policy in place that you can find on their website?
A Corporate Social Responsibility or (CSR) policy or statement outlines how a company or organisation is expected to operate in order to act and conduct themselves in a way that is socially responsible and sustainable over the longer term and that does not promote short term gains that would be detrimental to their customers, suppliers or wider workforce.
This policy will usually document precisely how they have set about achieving this. You can then cross compare this with what you see and hear in the mainstream news and media, for he smaller gas companies you may have to research online as media attention will not shine so brightly on them.
Whilst natural gas and oil prices have fallen many of the larger gas companies had not been reducing their price relative to this decrease. This was seen as a move intended to inflate company profits at the expense of contributing to fuel poverty for many low income families and homes. However this hasn’t happened unnoticed and received media coverage.
Would Your Friends and Family Endorse Them?
It can be easy for us to get pulled into persuasive marketing messages, yet they never tell the whole story. However we naturally trust the opinions of our good friends and family and this can help you to identify early on whether a particular supplier may be suitable or whether they conduct themselves in a way that would cause you problems if you were to use their services.
Here are some questions to ask and things you might want to try and establish: Is the company easy to get hold of? Are you able to speak to an actual person? When you need to speak to someone do they have native call centre staff or are they outsourced to somewhere with a dialect so different that you cannot understand them? Are you able to speak to someone who can help you or do they bounce you from person to person as you listen to elevator music? Do they return your calls and answer your written correspondence? Are staff generally pleasant, helpful and attentive to your needs?
A company can only ever be as good as the people who work for it.
Do they Provide Straightforward Pricing?
Some gas providers work through traditional metre readings however more popular these days are energy or gas tariffs. They have not always been easy to understand and probably still have a long way to go. Ask yourselves whether you would like to pay for precisely what gas you use or whether you’d like a tariff option.
Tariffs can have both a positive or negative impact on the price you pay for your gas. Some tariffs are fixed and you are locked into paying a particular rate, if the market price for gas decreases you won’t see the benefit of reduced prices, however equally if the market price for natural gas increases you will still be paying the lower limit.
Does the company actually come and collect a metre reading or are they simply guesstimating how much they think you have to pay them? Yes this actually happens, and complacency on your part can harm your bank balance.
About the author:
David Beastall writes on behalf of Northern Energy Supplies Ltd who are an independent supplier of commercial LPG and domestic home heating oil for the regions of North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Lincolnshire.