You may have heard the phrase the Big 6 banded about over the years and these days you can barely switch the television or radio on without hearing some doom-laden news snippet about them. You would also be hard-pressed to find anyone saying anything particularly nice about them. Politicians, journalists, money saving experts and social media commentators all seem to have an opinion.

‘Rip-off merchants’, ‘one big cartel’ ‘daylight robbers’ ‘fat cat energy firms’, ‘greedy con-artists’ etc etc.

You get the picture.

But is this really deserved? Who are these companies? Are they really that bad?

Well yeah, I’m afraid they are. And here’s why.

Who are they?

Ok, let’s start with some introductions. In no particular order The Big Six are British Gas, Npower, E-on, Scottish Power, SSE and EDF. These six companies are the largest energy suppliers in the UK and control over 85% of the market share.

Where did they come from?

It all started with the privatization of the energy market. These companies sprung out of the local electricity boards with the aim, ironically, to make the market competitive. Eventually these smaller companies merged or were bought out by other much larger companies until we got to the position we’re in now.

What do they do wrong?

When a company gets so big it can lose its focus on what has made it so. Namely their loyal customers. The problem is, these long-term customers are ‘rewarded’ with poor customer service and excessive price rises. Why do prices never go down? In the last couple of months 5 out of the 6 have increased their prices, adding, in some cases over a £100 to people’s bills. EDF have raised prices twice!

Npower actually admitted to a government committee that their entire business model is based on enticing new customers with cheap deals, while keeping loyal customers on the most expensive tariffs. Some customers who have been supplied by Npower for 10 years are paying over £200 more than someone who joined the month before. How’s that for fairness?!

What do they do well?

In the interests of balance, it is only fair to acknowledge the positive side of these companies, so we’ll get back to you on that one.

Why are so many people still with them?

According to research conducted by OFGEM, 60% of UK homes have no recollection of changing supplier. Unfortunately, a lot of people are unware that they are paying a lot more for their energy than their next door neighbor, all because they have stayed with their original supplier. Some people are under the impression that switching is too much hassle or that there isn’t enough difference between suppliers to make it worthwhile.

Go independent.

In the UK, there are now over 40 energy suppliers to choose from. Some like ourselves are independent. We don’t have shareholders to pay dividends to and we don’t have huge overheads. That means we can keep our prices fair and you can speak to us, whenever you have any questions.

If you are one of the 60% of homes never to have switched, why not give it a go. You may be surprised at how easy it is.

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