A company called The Big Deal has partnered with The Sun newspaper to run a collective energy switch, and the Great British Collective switch is also offering cheap tariffs on a regional basis. But how do the deals stack up on price and customer service – and how do they compare with MSE's own Big Switch Event 4?
A collective's where a trusted intermediary (such as a council or us) runs an auction for energy firms to bid to provide special tariffs.
There are four collective switches in total running currently – these include MoneySavingExpert.com's Big Switch Event 4, which runs until Thursday (18 February), The Big Deal's, on until Friday (19 February), and the Great British Collective, which ends on 15 March.
A fourth collective called the Big Community Switch is also being run by Ichoosr, but you can't take part now if you've not already registered for this specific switch. If you are registered, you'll get an email this week with the tariffs available to you. We asked Ichoosr for details on the supplier and tariffs but it refused to tell us.
How do the collectives' headline tariffs compare?
The headline cheapest tariffs in The Big Deal's switch and the Great British Collective's have a slightly lower average price than the standout cheapest tariff in our Big Switch Event 4 – a one-year fix with British Gas at an average £744/year on typical use, with £30/fuel exit fees.
But factoring in our Cheap Energy Club's cashback, the Big Switch Event 4 tariff's cheaper than both on average over a year.
Neither The Big Deal nor the Great British Collective offers cashback, while you can get £30 dual fuel cashback with our collective via the Cheap Energy Club.
Prices vary by usage and region though, so to find your cheapest always do a full comparison. Because the collective tariffs are close in average price there will be circumstances when each can win.
HOW THE COLLECTIVES' HEADLINE TARIFFS COMPARE
|Collective||Tariff||Avg cost/yr (1)||Cashback||Avg cost/yr after cashback||Cust service (2)||Deadline|
|MSE Big Energy Switch 4||British Gas 1yr fix||£744||£30 dual fuel||£714||38% 'great', 28% 'poor'||18 Feb|
|The Big Deal||Extra Energy 1yr fix||£731||None||£731||9% 'great', 80% 'poor'||19 Feb|
|The Great British Collective||Various 1yr fix||£732||None||£732||Depends on supplier (see below)||15 Mar|
|With all three tariffs you must pay by direct debit and opt for paperless billing. (1) Based on Ofgem typical dual fuel use. (2) According to MSE poll in Nov 2015.|
All three collectives massively undercut the average big six standard tariff, currently an average £1,089/yr. The cheapest open-market one-year fix is currently from Gnergy, at an average £764/yr on typical use, with no cashback and a £25 per fuel exit fee.
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Customer service is key too – here's how they rate
If you care about customer service, there's a marked difference between the tariffs offered by the collectives. We poll our users every six months on the customer service of their energy supplier – and here's what our most recent poll in November 2015 showed:
- Some 80% of customers of Extra Energy (see The Big Deal's switch) rated it 'poor', with just 9% saying it was 'great'. It also came bottom of our May 2015 customer service poll. Most of the negative feedback we've had on Extra has been around billing issues, and we've had a warning message about it on our Cheap Energy Club.
- The four suppliers which are part of the Great British Collective's headline tariff had a mixed performance (E.on scored 58% 'great' and 11% 'poor', Npower scored 20% 'great' and 52% 'poor', SSE scored 48% 'great' and 19% 'poor', and we had no feedback on smaller firm Places for People).
- British Gas scored 38% 'great' and 28% 'poor' – as part of our collective we've arranged for it to provide boosted customer service resources for our switch.
More on the other collective tariffs
Here's the other key info on the collective switches:
- The Big Deal is a small collective consumer switch company – it's partnered with The Sun for the third time to promote this collective switch. To take part in this collective you have to sign up to The Big Deal – but you don't already have to be a member.
Exit fees for its Extra Energy tariff are £30/fuel, and if customer service is a concern, it's worth noting our November 2015 poll results (see above).
The Big Deal's collective switch also offers a 100% renewable tariff one-year fix through Green Star at an average £824/year, with £30/fuel exit fees. The one-year fix green tariff in the MSE Big Switch Event, from Bulb, is an average £869/year, but you also get £30 cashback and a £25 John Lewis voucher for a dual fuel switch. Green Star scored 67% 'great' and 13% 'poor' in our last poll – Bulb only got six votes so can't be compared.
- The Great British Collective is run by Energy Helpline, and open to the comparison site's 130,000 members – this deal's not available if you're not already a member. It also goes by other names, such as NHS Energy Club and The Energy Switch.
Unusually, this deal involves four different suppliers – E.on, SSE, Npower and Places for People. The one you get depends on the region you're in. Exit fees vary by supplier.
Across the country, the average cost for a typical dual fuel household is £732/year, but there's a big range, from an average £690/year with SSE in the Eastern region to an average £770/year with E.on in the 'Manweb' region (Merseyside and north Wales).
The Great British Collective also has an elec-only deal fixed for one year with E.on at £379/year, and a prepay tariff from Ovo Energy at £1,054/year. In our collective, the one-year fix elec-only deal, also from E.on, is an average £380/year but has £15 cashback. We didn’t get a prepay deal, but the cheapest on the market is £1,025/year with the energy supplier named 'E'.