New Zealanders are getting better satisfaction from smaller power companies, according to a survey by Consumer NZ.

It questioned more than 11,000 of its members as part of its annual survey, which found overall satisfaction has improved. Seventy-five per cent rated their company's performance "good" or "very good", up from last year's 73 per cent - an improvement on the 65-69 per cent average satisfaction ratings that electricity suppliers received in previous years.

However, some companies still rated much better than others.

Powershop was the clear leader: 96 per cent of its customers were satisfied, up from 92 per cent last year.


According to the survey's feedback, buying power online as needed "gives a sense of control rather than helplessness in the face of market forces", said one respondent and "I like their feedback re quantity/cost of power our household has used each week".

Powershop's closest rivals were Energy Online, Energy Direct NZ and Meridian Energy, one of the larger suppliers, which rated between 84 and 81 per cent.

Only 55 per cent were satisfied with bottom-ranked Empower. The Contact Energy-owned company suffered from complaints about high charges and poor service.

Of the large companies, Contact Energy itself was the lowest rated at 66 percent satisfaction. People found it inflexible and difficult to deal with over "issues'', the survey found.

The most common problems with an electricity supplier were poor communications and inaccurate estimates.

Consumer said that depending on where you live consumers should have a choice of between four and nine retailers and dissatisfied electricity customers could always change suppliers.

Overall, 15 per cent of survey respondents had changed electricity suppliers during the previous year.

Powershop chief executive Ari Sargent said the survey shows once again smaller electricity companies were driving higher competition and better service in the industry.

"The Government has run a highly publicised campaign about the benefits of switching. It's no surprise smaller companies like Powershop have been able to show New Zealanders that there are much better alternatives.''