My Personal Bulb Energy Review
I have been a Bulb customer (or member as they prefer to call us) for 18 months now. In that time they have grown very quickly - maybe it's been a little too fast! Since I switched in June 2017, the number of members has risen from around 50,000 to over 450,000 and rising. I'm going to share all the good and not-so-good things about switching to Bulb.
About Bulb - Some General Background
Bulb entered the UK energy market in 2015, with the aim of offering affordable green energy with their single 100% renewable electricity and 10% renewable biomethane gas tariff.
Bulb was founded by two former energy industry workers, Hayden and Amit, who paired up to offer "A fair and open energy company, with an engaged supportive community that takes centre stage." There is no doubt that Bulb has captured the interest of those who want a renewable energy provider who can offer a very competitive tariff and great customer service.
Bulb Renewable Energy Tariff
Bulb attempts to cut through the confusion of the energy market by offering just one, variable rate, renewable energy tariff to both electricity-only and dual fuel customers. The renewable electricity is generated from sources including hydro, wind and solar, all of which is generated in the UK.
What I Like About Bulb Energy:
Cheap, Renewable Energy with NO Contracts
At the time of writing, Bulb offer one of the cheapest renewable energy tariffs available. They don’t tie-in customers to fixed-term contracts nor do they charge exit fees if you switch from them. However, they will pay the exit fees of the energy company you’re switching from.
Easy to Switch to Bulb with NO Exit Fees if you Want to Leave
It’s very easy to get a quote and switch. A few minutes is all that’s required and then Bulb do the rest, which includes talking to your old provider and making sure the transition is completely painless. They’ll keep you updated along the way, but there really isn’t anything you need to do, until they ask you for your initial meter readings. You can supply these readings online from your personal MyBulb dashboard or from the Bulb app.
Bulb Refer-a-Friend Scheme
There's is no doubt that Bulb's Referral Scheme has been a major driving force in the growth of the company. When you're a Bulb member, you’ll get a unique Bulb refer-a-friend link to share. For each friend that switches to Bulb, you'll both get a £50 credit in your Bulb account. This encourages happy members to share the word and recommend Bulb - but it hasn't been without a down side - see further down my review.
Bulb's Customer Service
When I switched to Bulb their customer service was one of the best I'd ever come across. It's one thing to provide cheap energy but that means very little if you don't take customer service seriously. The "energy experts" as Bulb called them were exactly that - motivated, knowledgeable and friendly operators who clearly knew what they were talking about. Having the phone answered (quickly) by a real person instead of wading through automated menus is a massive positive. I'd hate to think of how many hours I've wasted going through menus and listening to on-hold music when trying to contact some of the big corporates. BT and British Gas must be the biggest culprits here!
The online control panel is great and lets you see exactly what's going on with your account. You can monitor your energy usage and you can also adjust the amount that goes out each month and build-up credit in your account for the winter months. The online community is a great idea but the quality of posts has dropped a bit since Bulb's rapid growth.
However, it's not all rosy on the customer service front as you'll see further down my review.
Bulb's Ethos - They are a Cerified B Corporation
Bulb has Certified Corporate B status. "B Corps" are a growing community of businesses from around the world who aim to solve social and environmental problems - from going green and recycling to providing support to low income communities — and are legally required to consider the wider impact of every business decision. If you want to know more, visit https://www.bcorporation.net.
What I Don't Like About Bulb Energy:
Bulb Refer-a-Friend Scheme - Again
This isn't Bulb's fault, unless you think that offering such a generous referral scheme is bound to bring out the worst in (some) people. The desire of some to get as many referrals as possible has resulted in a number of dodgy reviews appearing on platforms such as TrustPilot, which are nothing more than attempts to share a member's referral link with as many people as possible. Some people consider that Bulb is "buying" 5 star reviews as almost every review posted online contains a referral link.
There are members who repeatedly post a review online with their referral link and then delete and repost it, to make sure they appear at the top of the reviews. This undermines Bulb's reputation, and although they work hard to weed these reviews out, they can't actually delete the reviews themselves and have to rely on TrustPilot to spot the repeat offenders.
Bulb's Customer Service - Again
This follows on from my comment about how quickly Bulb's customer base has grown. In the space of only 2 years their membership has gone from 15,000 to over 450,000. Their ethos maybe exemplary, but their once-excellent customer service has definitely suffered. In this respect they are clearly victims of their own success.
However, it is only fair to compare their customer service levels with those of the big six energy companies. I have been a customer of British Gas and SSE in the past and Bulb's customer service is still far superior in almost every way.
Whilst Bulb still pick the phone up very quickly when you call them (and there are no automated menus to navigate - a huge plus point) the quality of the operators has really dropped and it can be a bit of a lottery. Some operators are very knowledgable, articulate and motivated whilst others appear out of their depth, and inspire little confidence. Your call could be answered by a genuine energy expert or someone that appears to have been "thrown to the lions" with inadequate training.
If your account is straightforward then you will probably have no customer service issues, but if you have any special needs, Bulb might not be right for you. For example, I switched my octogenarian mum over to Bulb after I'd been with them for about 6 months. At that time the customer service was outstanding. It was agreed, before my mum switched, that a representative of Bulb would visit and take gas and electricity meter readings every quarter. 12 months on, and only 1 meter reading has been taken, with meter readers repeatedly failing to show up on the agreed day. The only reading they have taken so far (electricity) was much higher than the estimates, which resulted in a whopping bill the following month. The same thing could happen when (if) the gas meter is read.
In Conclusion: Do I Still Recommend Bulb?
The short answer is yes! Whilst this recommendation isn't an unreserved one, I'm still a very happy Bulb member and have no intention of switching away. Although customer service levels have slipped as Bulb continues to grow, their service levels are, on the whole, far superior than those of their competitors. I would like to see Bulb slow down their growth, temporarily, allowing them to cope with their increased membership without compromising the service levels. There are clearly some big issues around Bulb providing a meter reading service, but this only affects those that cannot read their own meters. If you are comfortable with having an online only energy provider, then I can highly recommend Bulb Energy.