Advice on an internet provider with similar values as Bulb

Hi everyone,

Quick question: Does anyone know of an internet provider with a similar approach to business as Bulb has?
And with that I mean open, transparant and from a place of trust?

I am currently signed up with TalkTalk and I although they have always served me well, I feel it is time for a change.
So if anyone has got any good suggestions, I would be very very grateful!

Thank you!

Warm regards,

@Nicole We find that TalkTalk has good service compared to other suppliers. It’s a good question though, I’d like to know myself so I can find someone other than BT =)

@“SJ at Bulb”, I’m amazed whenever anyone says that. I’ve always found their customer service pretty terrible.

They’re not quite in the same league as Bulb but I tend to recommend Plusnet if you’re limited to a BT line.

First Utility and SSE are doing broadband now. Maybe Bulb will be in a few years time once they’ve cornered the energy market. =) Plusnet have always given me good service and a reliable connection but their website is a real mess to find anything. As for “open, transparent and from a place of trust” I seem to remember when I used to look in on their community forums from time to time shortly after joining that they were often promising things would get fixed that then never did and denying anything was wrong. Things like their webmail being slow and constantly logging you out. Has that been fixed yet? I gave up using it.

Hi @Nicole ,

I have no experience of them, but your question suggests to me that you may like to have a look at The Phone Co-op.

@198kHz, I thought I’d missed something great when you posted that link but alas, it seems to just be a co-op like any other. In theory you can get a say but for a technical company (phone and broadband supplier), it’s very disappointing that the input you can have as a member is limited to AGMs…

@mowcius Do you have any helpful feedback about this energy company?

@mowcius Do you have any helpful feedback about this energy company?
It's not a company I'd really looked into as I'm perfectly happy with Bulb right now but I've just had a quick look at their website and a couple of articles about their conception to try and get up to speed.

It very much seems like the small family run crowdfunded venture that it is, with a whole load of questions left unanswered on the FAQ, and information either missing or very hidden.

There’s no information on their renewable energy mix or anything they’re doing additionally to allow advertising a green tarrif (funnily enough that’s not what they advertise, just that they source their electricity from 100% sources). Gas is presumably as it comes cheapest as there’s no mention of any guaranteed percentage of biomethane, or any carbon offsetting plans.

As a very small company, you won’t get any of the benefits of a larger supplier (mobile apps, smart meter integration, WHD, prepay meters, etc.) and I can’t see anything about their business plan for growth, so I suspect they will remain a small supplier until they go bust from discovering things like smart meter rollouts and support are not all that sustainable at a small scale.

They seem cheap, but that worries me more than entices me. Cheap is generally a false economy, with physical products and with energy suppliers.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

As a note on seeming cheap, they’re cheaper than Bulb for the standing charge and gas, but more expensive on electricity unit rate for Yorkshire.

That may be a draw for those with second houses which have little usage, but for anyone on electric only (or primarily electric, perhaps for environmental reasons) in the one property, PE may well be more expensive than Bulb.

I’ve been following them for a few weeks now and have called them a couple of times. Pickup time and quality of response is comparable to Bulb’s, and energy cost much the same (slightly lower for me - NE) . They’re happy to grow slowly (about 7500 customers last week), don’t bribe customers to join and I read somewhere (though can’t find it again now) that acquisition cost per customer is only about £3.

Website is lacking, though I see that Forum members (all 21 of them) are making a few suggestions as to how to make it better. Despite the apparent revamp, Bulb’s website is also still full of inconsistencies, but I’ve given up on them ever managing to get things right.

I won’t be moving for price, but the recurring tech issues are annoying and I don’t like the way Bulb buys new customers. This was probably the final straw:

I’m going to think about it whist making sure I have saved records of all my bills.

Interesting discussion about People’s Energy! @xxx I’d be really interested to hear your comments on our website if you’d be willing to share :slight_smile: Also re: “buying new members” I totally understand where your discomfort with this comes from, since it seems bribe-y and as a current member you’d probably prefer cheaper prices instead. My thought on that is new members add revenue and more efficiency by numbers so, ultimately, it helps bring prices down for everyone, even with the acquisition cost. We do the referral credit rather than a cashback or sign up credit is we’re trying to grow as a community and reward our members who spread the word

No, @“Maude at Bulb”, it’s not cheaper prices that I’d prefer.

In fact, it’s actually that sort of assumption (customers are only interested in cash for themselves) that is making me reluctantly decide that Bulb is not the company for me. I’d prefer higher prices if it prevented transient switchers joining up for their £50 (without knowing anything about the company or how their account will operate) and then moving on to a cheaper deal elsewhere.

Rewarding customers for spreading the word is an admirable concept, but that’s not what’s happening here - and your Blog praising the referrers making a living out of it seems to confirm this.

I’m afraid that I would echo most of @xxx’s comments on the matter.

I’ve said before that I didn’t move from Good Energy to Bulb because of the price, rather the community focus and involvement.

Increasingly it seems that little improvement is being made in this space, and Bulb is focusing a little too hard on new members and not enough on their existing flock.

I’ve also given up a little on making suggestions and reporting website (primarily forum) issues as there are so many and the ones I have reported so far are still there many months on. If Bulb’s moving these forums to Discourse though then I can let them off :grin:

For an ‘open, honest’ etc ISP , have a look at : unfiltered internet (they - along with their MD “Rev K” are very anti-monitoring/filtering etc), set packages (no ‘hidden’ bandwidth limits), excellent tech support etc. I’ve not used AAISP myself as quality does come at a cost and we do use quite a lot of data transfer (we use which mainly depends on Entanet for their infrastructure, but the MD there is nice and friendly and helpful), but both worth considering.

With smaller providers, you do tend to get better knowledgeable support (when I got the Aquiss connection setup in our new build house, I was actually speaking to the MD there to check things!), but you don’t get the ‘bells and whistles’ some people nowadays associate with an internet connection. You’ll get a static IPv4 and IPv6 IP address from both providers (you’ll be lucky to get a static IP, let alone an IPv6, from the ‘big providers’), but you will not get a ‘TV package/phone/calls package’ and most of them don’t include ‘a free router’ (which are usually crap anyway, let’s be honest!).

Thinkbroadband have just released their ISP stats for April.

Unsurprisingly AAISP are top of the list and Plusnet are up at the top of the more well known providers.

Plusnet have come out well in the latest Ofcom survey.

They have a busy forum for technical issues and for chat, frequented by Plusnet staff, and critical post are not censored or removed.

I’ve always found the Plusnet technical team really good, but Customer Services is patchy and call wait times can be lengthy.

I’ve had a good run with sky. However they are part of that infamous murdoch empire. I had one line fault and by the time I got to an adviser they were already running a line test. Before I even spoke to her an engineer was called out. The first time a voice recognition system worked

I’d recommend Zen broadband. They’re a smallish but growing company based in Rochdale, Lancashire with very high customer services ratings, a proactive approach to corporate social responsibility and strong ethics. Zen is more costly than many other broadband providers but their responsiveness to customers’ questions is impressive. They’ve won accolades from Which and Ethical Consumer amongst other organisations.

Similarly the Phone Co-op could be well worth considering.

I've always found the Plusnet technical team really good, but Customer Services is patchy and call wait times can be lengthy.

I agree, but their chat feature is very good and far more efficient if you are happy to use it.