Sainsbury’s Energy review
Sainsbury’s Energy is one of the little guys and it used to offer some great deals.
For those in the know, it was a backdoor way of grabbing a British Gas energy supply at a much cheaper price than British Gas customers were paying.
For an average user, around £200 a year cheaper, in fact.
That’s because Sainsbury’s Energy is actually just British Gas with a Sainsbury’s label stuck over the top.
But since the start of this year things have changed and Sainsbury’s Energy’s prices, along with those of British Gas, are, well, the same.
To see if you could save money switching to Sainsbury's Energy, compare energy suppliers today.
Read on as we review Sainsbury's Energy prices, customer service and renewable energy credentials.
Sign up with Sainsbury’s – get British Gas
Ofgem changed its rules last October to force energy companies to tell their customers about ALL their prices, including those offered under ‘white label’ arrangements.
So, rather than have to offer its nine million customers the cut-price fixed tariffs it was pushing out under the Sainsbury’s Energy label, British Gas withdrew the cheap deals.
Now, when you sign up to Sainsbury’s Energy, what you get is exactly the same as British Gas.
Same supply, same prices.
A case of unforeseen consequences for Ofgem and certainly not the outcome they had in mind.
Sainsbury changed two fixed tariffs at the end of the year and replaced them with new ones that are more expensive. Anyone already on a fixed tariff was unaffected until the term of their contract ends.
The standard tariff stayed unchanged.
Who are Sainsbury's Energy?
Sainsbury’s Energy was launched in 2011 and created by marrying two of the UK’s most famous brands –Sainsbury’s and British Gas, to provide gas, electricity and boiler services.
Sainsbury’s Energy also offer Nectar rewards to their customers. Unique among our reviews.
The supermarket’s network of branches allows it to offer advice centres in some of those stores, allowing face to face liaison with customers.
They don’t currently supply pre-payment customers.
Sign up to Sainsbury's Energy...get British Gas
Sainsbury's Energy offering
As with all the newer, smaller suppliers, prices are packages are simple.
Sainsbury’s Energy offers just three types of tariff – Variable, Fixed and Standard.
Variable, as you would expect, changes according to the vagaries of the energy market, so what you pay can go up and down.
Currently, Sainsbury offers three fixes for gas and electricity, to August 2018, June 2018 and to August 2019.
Only the Standard, which is the company’s variable rate, is exit fee free. The fixed price deals are only for dual fuel deals and have exit fees ranging from £20 per fuel to £40 per fuel.
The August 2018 fix offers £100 gift cards that can be used at Sainsbury’s; if you’re a regular shopper, these amounts can be factored into the overall price of the fuel. If you’re not, then they’re just an extra.
For all packages, Sainsbury’s offers a £15 dual fuel discount – so, sign up for both electricity and gas and you get 15 quid off.
Again, no pre-payment meter customers are supplied.
Is Sainsbury's Energy's customer service any good?
Feedback in Which?'s 2017 survey of 9,000 energy customers is fairly positive.
The company score three out of five stars for helping you save energy, value for money and billing clarity.
It did rather better, though, with four out of five stars, for customer service.
Overall customers gave it a 60% rating. Not great, but not bad either.
Sainsbury’s Energy used to attract very good feedback for its customer service, especially for the speed with which phone calls were answered.
But Which? found the time it took to reach a real person averaged more than eight minutes.
Maybe that doesn’t sound so long, but imagine hanging on the line for that time. Over eight minutes puts Sainsbury’s Energy near the bottom of the Which? league table for call waiting.
Sainsbury's official complaints data is compiled with parent company British Gas. To find out how it performed, head over to our British Gas review.
If you like to choose your energy provider based on it doing its bit for the environment as well as price, then you’ll want to know where Sainsbury’s Energy gets its fuel from.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the same as British Gas – because it IS British Gas. The national average is in brackets for comparison.
Between April 2015 and March 2016, British Gas got its fuel from:
* Coal: 2% (17).
* Natural Gas: 30% (32)
* Nuclear: 34% (24)
* Renewables: 33% (24)
* Other fuels: 1% (3)
More detail: Choosing a green energy tariff - what you need to know.
The Sainsbury’s Energy site is fairly clear, although we found it a bit jumbled.
If you like to check your account, perhaps submit meter readings, using your phone, you’ll be disappointed and probably frustrated with the Sainsbury’s Energy site as it doesn’t appear to exist in mobile format.
It beats us how any energy company these days can describe ‘online account management’ as a reason to switch to it and NOT have a mobile site.
Why choose Sainsbury's Energy?
So why do Sainsbury’s Energy reckon you should choose them?
They offer vouchers when you join and Nectar points as you spend on energy.
They say they offer simple bills and energy efficiency advice and you can manage your account online.
Well we can’t deny the vouchers and Nectar points, and customers do praise the clarity of the bills; but no mobile site is definitely a bit rubbish and ALL companies offer energy efficiency advice.
And we note there’s no mention there of ‘our great prices’. Why is that, we can’t help wondering?
Generally, we believe it’s best to let company’s prices and packages do the talking rather than bonuses and perks for joining.
Whenever there are extras on offer, free this or that, we always ask ‘is this a distraction technique’ drawing attention away from the lack of competitive prices?
But these certainly need to be factored in when making comparisons between prices of suppliers.
Only you can decide whether the price is right by running the numbers.
Our view – Pros and cons
* It offers face-to-face staff in Sainsbury’s stores.
* Tariffs appear to be reasonably competitive, if not the cheapest around.
* Sainsbury’s vouchers and Nectar points on offer when you join up.
* No mobile site.
* Scored poorly on phone wait times for customers.