Extra Energy Review
Extra Energy is one of the newest energy suppliers in Britain, and among the cheapest.
But are they any good? Do Extra Energy review well?
Extra Energy are the British wing of German company Extraenergie, and started trading in the UK in 2014.
They consistently show up among the cheapest energy suppliers in the UK on price comparison websites. But does that mean it’s a good idea to switch?
Why is Extra Energy so cheap?
Extra Energy compete on price.
The company states that its mission is to ‘generate outstanding cost savings which we gladly pass onto our customers’.
They score well on price alone, offering three of the cheapest ten tariffs for dual fuel in the UK, including the second cheapest. But how do Extra Energy keep their prices low?
One of the ways Extra Energy keeps their costs down is through reduced overheads.
They don’t advertise and they have a very light, lean operation - one that’s been criticised for being too lean to handle its own admin in the past.
They also don’t offer much flexibility. You can sign up for dual fuel or for electricity, but there isn’t a standalone provision for gas. There’s a small number of tariffs: a standard tariff and three fixed-rate tariffs, and there’s no room to move on pricing, meter reads or payment.
Extra Energy charges different amounts depending on where you live: use the A Spokesman Said energy postcode tariff finder to compare energy suppliers and check what Extra Energy will charge you in your area.
Additionally, Extra Energy use six-monthly recalculations of direct debits and don’t offer Smart Meters, though there is an Extra Energy prepayment meter service.
There are certainly savings to be made with Extra Energy
Extra Energy customer service isn’t as great as its prices
One big complaint about energy companies is customer service. So how does Extra Energy stack up?
Extra Energy try to keep as much of their customer interaction online as possible, so most users are encouraged to operate their accounts through the online portal on the website.
In their early days, this was a little glitchy but it works pretty well now.
To use it you have to create an account; one isn’t automatically created for you when you sign up - you’ll need your Extra Energy customer number to set up your account.
Customer service is via a UK call centre on 0800 9534 775 or 0800 9534 774, or 08451 400 251 for business.
Staff are friendly enough, but waiting-times can vary with all energy supplier call centres.
When we called Extra Energy midafternoon on a weekday, our call waiting time was 13 minutes the first time and 12 minutes the second time.
Extra Energy’s customer service satisfaction rate is lowly reviewed according to a Which? 2015 survey (only 2 stars for customer service) and you can check out their star rating to see how well it fares when it comes to handling real Extra Energy customer complaints.
Extra Energy got 4 out of 5 stars for ‘Value for Money’ and ‘Helping You to Save Energy’, on the same Which? 2015 survey - so it’s a case of cheaper price, even cheaper customer service.
UPDATE: On June 3 it was reported Extra Energy had topped the complaints list. With 1,682 complaints per 100,000 customers, Extra was the most complained about supplier between January and March. The figure is the highest ratio of complaints since the data began to be compiled five years ago.
The supplier, which has struggled to cope with the influx of 500,000 new customers attracted by cheap tariffs, apologised and admitted the beginning of 2016 had been "challenging".
On September 1 2016 we reported how Extra Energy had once again topped the complaints list, with 1,791.2 complaints per 100,000 customers. The data, from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, revealed Extra Energy is a shocking 80 times worse than best-performing SSE.
Extra Energy billing is OK at best
Extra Energy send statements every six months to direct debit customers and every three months to customers who pay on receipt of their bills.
There are three main account types, a small business account, standard home account and a fixed-rate tariff.
Extra Energy will give you a quote via their Quick Quote service. Terms and conditions for business and domestic tariffs are available as PDFs.
In some cases, people will come to special arrangements with their energy providers, such as paying a monthly bill based on their meter readings rather than letting the company figure things out over longer periods.
However, with Extra Energy that’s not usually possible. It’s certainly not supported by their usual channels.
There’s another mark against the company on the matter of billing. Extra Energy re-calibrate your direct debits against your meter readings every six months. When you’ve been paying more than you should, they’ll refund the difference - if it’s over £70.
When a Moneysavingexpert.com user asked an Extra Energy staff member if that theoretically meant Extra Energy could keep a customer’s account in credit by £70 for the entire duration of the contract, the answer was that it could.
Thus, part of Extra Energy’s low-cost business model is paid for from this extra money, which is essentially an interest-free loan from its customers. However, this may be a glitch rather than something deliberate: the Extra Energy website promises Extra Energy customers will soon be able to contact the company and ask for their direct debits to be recalculated more regularly, based on meter readings.
Switching to Extra Energy from another energy supplier
If you decide to switch energy provider to Extra Energy, what does the process look like?
The switchover process for Extra Energy is much the same as for any other energy company.
Pop your postcode and your existing energy usage details into the A Spokesman Said energy switching tool (so we can make sure you’ll get a cheaper deal), and then choose a cheap Extra Energy tariff that saves you money.
You don’t need to contact your existing energy supplier to tell them you’re switching as this is now completed for you. The whole process takes around 14 - 21 days, and you can sit back and relax while it takes place. You’ll be asked for opening meter readings from Extra Energy in a couple of week’s time - and they’ll take up your energy supply from there.
It typically takes about five weeks to switch, according to Extra Energy’s website, including a 14-day cooling-off period during which you can cancel your contract. During those five weeks, you’re at the mercy of two sets of computer systems - Extra Energy’s and your old supplier’s. Getting things sorted is straightforward in most cases.
Extra Energy has been poorly reviewed in the past for it's administrative performance: new customers didn’t get their welcome packs, weren’t emailed with welcome information, or the switchover was cancelled because of a computer glitch and the customer wasn’t told.
Additionally some new customers weren’t told when direct debits would come out of their bank accounts, or even how large the debits would be, and there was some confusion on the part of Extra Energy call centre staff about when final meter readings needed to be submitted.
These errors took place in 2014 when the company had been trading only a few months and their IT wasn’t fully operational, but they left some customers out of pocket.
Extra Energy Prepayment Meters
If you have a prepayment meter, you can switch to Extra Energy and the usual rules apply: if you’ve owed money for more than 28 days or have less than £500 of debt, you should be good to go. Any objection will come from your previous supplier.
Some meters are designed to permit ‘Economy 7’ billing, and if you have one of these meters, Extra Energy will only accept you as an Economy 7 customer because their computer system can’t handle those meters any other way.
They’re not the only supplier with this problem, but the result can be that you get hit with a different kind of billing or aren’t eligible for the deal you wanted. You can tell if you have an Economy 7 meter by checking your bill: Economy 7 bill meter access numbers start with ‘02.’ If you don’t have a bill handy, check your meter. If it shows one rate of energy consumption it’s a normal meter, but Economy 7 meters show two rates, normal and low.
What if you change your mind?
When you move to Extra Energy you have a 14-day cooling-off period, just like with any other energy company. If you switch away during this time you can’t be held to any exit fees or penalised in any way, and the switchover process is slow enough that you’ll owe money to your original supplier for the two-week period, not Extra Energy.
If you’ve moved to Extra Energy and want to leave them once you’re outside the 14-day cooling-off period, there are exit fees of £25 per fuel for fixed-rate tariffs, meaning dual-fuel customers must pay £50 to leave. Standard tariff customers face no exit fees, but Extra Energy’s standard tariff is almost 20% more expensive.
Extra Energy has admitted that its customer service suffered last year after the firm grew too quickly. The problems - including incorrect bills - were, according to Extra Energy's Ben Jones, fixed in November. The problems were fixed by new phone systems and the hiring of 150 extra staff.
3 Key Points
1. Extra Energy can offer you one of the cheapest tariffs in the UK - but when something goes wrong, there’s not much support.
2. If you’re not comfortable with managing your energy online, Extra Energy might not be a good fit.
3. You’ll need to watch for the end of your fixed-rate tariff to make sure you keep saving money or switch to a cheaper energy supplier as you reach the end of the fixed term.
This Extra Energy review was updated on 01.09.16 to include up to date complaints data on Extra Energy.