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The State of the Big Six: SSE

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is a large energy supplier in the UK belonging to the Big Six key players in the gas and electricity markets. It is headquartered in Scotland and began as the Southern Electric Board in 1947. It is the second-largest UK energy company following British Gas.

Ovo Energy now owns it after a £500 million takeover approved by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in 2019. Both companies remain as separate entities to date.
Learn more about SSE and its current position in the retail energy market.

SSE: An Overview

SSE is a popular choice for customers not only for its energy deals but also for the exclusive Rewards programme that allows the purchase of presale tickets for events held in SSE venues. It currently holds a 13% market share in domestic electricity retail, a 1% drop from last year’s figure.
It has been reported that SSE serves 9.5 million customers accounts currently.

In the annual Which? survey involving 7,355 members of the public, SSE has received an overall customer satisfaction score of 61%. It is the 24th out of 35 UK energy suppliers, making it the highest-ranking among the Big Six.
SEE takes its energy source mostly from natural gas (67%). Renewables (23%), nuclear (4%), coal (4%), and other fuels (2%) make up the rest of the company’s fuel mix.

Out of the six major suppliers, SSE is the only one in to achieve a four-star rating on customer service. It also scored four stars on the way it handles complaints, faring better like its new owner Ovo Energy in terms of survey rankings.

SSE’s phone response time is two minutes slower (6 minutes 22 seconds) than the UK average of 4 minutes 24 seconds. Its live chat function is on par with most companies in the UK, taking 2 minutes 40 seconds to reply. Customers, however, aren’t keen on the firm’s value for money, but no other supplier has achieved an excellent score for this parameter.

Ofgem fined SSE in February 2019 for overstating Feed-in Tarif costs that amounted to £705,000. In April of the same year, the company paid £700,000 to Ofgem for missing the smart meter installation target. In 2018, SSE agreed to pay £1 million to the regulator’s voluntary redress fund for issuing misleading and inaccurate annual statements to prepayment meter accounts back in 2014 and 2015.

The company announced in May 2018 that it would be increasing prices by 7.9% and removing £6 per fuel on customer’s bills per year. Another price rise followed in February 2019 in response to Ofgem raising the price cap. SSE’s prices increased by 10% or £324 per year on the annual standard variable tariff (SVT) price. A few months after, in August 2019, the company announced a drop in SVTs by 6% following Ofgem’s revision of the price cap.

Key Points to Consider for Home Users

The easiest way to contact SSE is through the website’s Contact Us page. Alternatively, customers can call 0843 903 2112 for general enquiries to speak with an agent.

SSE offers many payment options to its home users. Direct Debit is a convenient way of paying by docking the bill directly from the customer’s bank account. There are discounts available for this option. Other payment channels include the SSE online account via its website, over the phone (automated Cardline) at 0345 704 5038, or through the Post Office or bank in cash or cheque. Paygo swipe cards are also available for a more flexible payment method.

For vulnerable customers struggling to pay bills, SSE offers assistance such as the Warm Home Discount granted to eligible account holders like the elderly, those with financial insecurity or disability, or dependants under 18 years old.

If moving homes or SSE properties, there is an online moving service to make the process easier. Customers need to provide the new address, moving date and meter readings as per the company’s instructions.
For complaints, home users can call the helpline at 0345 071 9710 from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm on weekdays, and 8.00 am to 6.00 pm on Saturdays.

Key Points to Consider for Business Users

Business users can reach an SSE customer service agent at 0345 725 2526. For business sales, the number to contact is 0800 389 4446.

Payments for business accounts can be made through different payment options, whether by Direct Debit, bank transfer, or at a bank, Post Office or PayPoint terminals. Unless an alternative payment method was discussed, SSE commercial contracts are under a variable direct debit payment, which includes a discount.

Meter readings may be submitted via email at b2b.meter.readings@sse.com, online, or through phone at 0345 071 9894.

SSE Business Energy reserves the right to ask for a security deposit, depending on the outcome of the credit check that it conducts for new and renewing customers.