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SSE Review

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jun 16, 2017

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SSE is another of the giants of the energy-supply world and has been around since 1947 when it was the Southern Electricity Board before becoming known as Southern Electric. 

The present company was formed in 1998 with the merger of Scottish Hydro and Southern Electric. 

It expanded in 2000 when it bought SWALEC and again in 2004 when it purchased Atlantic.

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It supplies households in the East and West Midlands, the North West, North East and Yorkshire regions and has some 10m customers.

To see if you could save money switching to an SSE gas and electricity deal, compare energy prices from across the market (once you've read our SSE Energy review)

SSE is not only an energy supplier – as well as offering gas and electricity, it also supplies broadband and phone services as well as home services such as boiler and heating cover, servicing, boiler care plans, boiler and heating cover for landlords and sells smart thermostats.

It’s the UK’s second largest energy supplier and is a supply partner for M&S Energy and Ebico – so if you sign up with them, you’ll be getting energy supplied by SSE, although tariffs might vary.

It appears in various guises around the country: SSE – London, east, south-west and south east; SSE and SSE Atlantic – Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire, north-west and north; SSE SWALEC – Wales; SEE Scottish Hydro – Northern Scotland; SSE Airtricity – Northern Ireland.

The company claims to be Britain’s biggest generator from renewable sources.

 

How do customers rate SSE?

SSE doesn't emerge from the Which? annual energy company customer survey with much distinction. The survey quizzes almost 9,000 customers about their views.

Overall, it came joint 15th out of 23 energy companies in the 2017 survey. This included the responses of 1,023 SSE customers.

It received an overall customer score of 56% and reviewed with three out of five stars for customer service, value for money, clarity of billing, handling of complaints and advice on saving money on energy use.

The Customer Score combines customers' overall satisfaction with their likelihood to recommend and is not directly linked to the star reviews.

The average score is 54% for the UK as a whole.

While SSE reviewed below average, it was up on the previous year, when it scored just 54%; but its ratings for customer service and how it deals with complaints dropped from four stars to three.

 

Is SSE’s customer service any good?

In September 2015, SSE came joint 51st out of 100 in a Which? survey of best and worst brands for customer service with a customer service score of 74%, making it the best performing of the Big Six.

In the Which? call-waiting test, SSE was slow to answer both customer and sales lines, letting customers wait for nearly 10 minutes on the customer service line and seven minutes on its sales line.

A majority of customers feel they are relatively well-treated when they’ve had a problem, poor review or complaint. One is quoted as saying: “'SSE quickly rectified the occasional fault we have with our supply.'

Others also comment on the clarity of the bills making them easy to understand.

And a YouGov poll of 5,100 energy consumers found 74% of customers were satisfied overall with SSE.

Between January and March 2017, SSE received the second lowest number of complaints, at 1,929 per 100,000 customers, just behind British Gas with 1,463. It’s been in the best three for several years now.

But it’s also been the second worst or the worst for sorting out complaints within eight weeks, Ofgem data show.

So a bit of a mixed bag, but SSE’s customer service seems OK – especially when compared to its Big Six rivals.

Between January and March 2017, the most common SSE complaints were about customer service (37%), billing (27%), metering (12%) and payments (12%). 

SSE's customer service contact number is 0345 026 2658. If you're unhappy with SSE, you can make a complaint on A Spokesman Said. 

We're in your corner. 

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Is SSE cheap?

A look at tariffs shows that SSE is fairly competitive. You can read our British Gas Review or EDF Energy review to see how it compares to other big energy providers.

But energy tariffs are changing all the time, and it’s always hard to say this company is cheaper or more expensive than another.

Deals come onto the market and are taken off – that’s why it’s always so important to use a comparison tool.

But what we can say is that, if you're looking to save money on your energy bills, SSE does price aggressively so is competitive.

SSE announced in March 2017 that, in line with the other Big Six, it would hike dual-fuel prices by 7% from April 2017

Until then, SSE had a decent track record of cutting prices; for example, in 2015 it cut prices by 4.1%.

But in 2013 it had announced a whopping 8.2% rise that would take effect from November and affect all its customers and those of its subsidiaries, including SSE Atlantic Energy, SSE Southern Electric, SSE Scottish Hydro and SSE SWALEC.

The government then said it would cut green taxes and SSE reduced its price rise to 4.2% from 2014.

SSE is currently offering the competitively priced SSE 1 Year Fixed v11 Paperless Billing, which will set the typical dual-fuel household, with two adults and four bedrooms, back £1117.95 a year.

So, in summary, SSE’s prices do respond promptly to market conditions, but, as always, getting the best deal means using a comparison tool at the time you are ready to switch – this is the ONLY way of being clear you are signing up for the best deal.

Keep reading for information on SSE's broadband, renewable energy and more...

 

SSE Phone & Broadband

SSE made the bold move into broadband and home phone services last year.

Immediately, its package became one of the best buys on the market.

Existing customers of SSE can get ultrafast or superfast fibre broadband £0 for 18-months, with Talk Anytime packages starting at £21 a month.

With broadband, as with energy, the only way to find out whether you can save money switching is by crunching the numbers on a comparison tool.  

 

How renewable is SSE's energy?

Many customers like to be sure the energy provider they sign up with is doing its best to cut greenhouse emissions and are actively looking to choose a green energy tariff

All energy providers are now required to reveal the mix of their energy sources, showing how they produce their power.

The SSE fuel mix for the period covering April 2015 to March March 2015, with UK averages in brackets, was:

* 29% from renewables (24%) – this is any source that is not depleted by its use, such as wind, water and solar power.
* 25% from coal (17%)
* 35% from natural gas (32%)
* 7% nuclear (24%)
* 4% other (3%)

As you can see, SSE is slightly ahead of the UK average for green energy, but also for coal. Swings and roundabouts!

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How to switch to SSE

Once you’ve accepted a tariff, you then have 14 days to cancel it, if you wish.

You can do this with no penalty.

SSE then lets your current supplier know you have switched and SSE will inform you of the date your supply changes over

They will ask for meter readings just before you switch over.  When the switchover is complete, you’ll receive a letter telling you this.

Read more: How to switch energy supplier

 

A Spokesman Said’s verdict

Pros:

* Competitive tariffs, but remember to check others using our comparison tool.
* All-in-one stop for energy as well as phone and household services.
* Strong on renewables

Cons:

* Three years ago it was fined £10.5m (a then record) by Ofgem for misselling its products by “the use of misleading scripts" by both telesales agents, while also failing to give "accurate estimates and comparisons to customers". So no reason to stay loyal.

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