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Questions for Broadband as Octopus Finish Shell Energy UK Purchase

Tuesday, Dec 5th, 2023 (8:51 am) - Score 6,440
Shell Energy Broadband

Broadband ISP and energy provider Shell Energy has confirmed that the Octopus Energy Group have now completed their acquisition of the UK retail provider from the Shell Group, which follows the signing of a related deal in September 2023 (here). But uncertainty remains over the future of their internet and phone customers.

At the time of the agreement, Shell Energy was said to be home to around 500,000 broadband and phone customers, as well as 1.3 million energy users. Some 2,000 UK people also worked for the division. The deal with Octopus Energy made sense because Shell’s retail division had faced plenty of challenges over the past few years (they lost almost £220m across 2020 and 2021), not unlike other energy providers, and thus Shell had been hunting for a way out (here).

The change represents a fairly straightforward transfer for their energy users, although the situation around their broadband and phone customers remains unclear because Octopus Energy is not itself an ISP. But “for now” the new owner has informed existing internet subscribers that “nothing changesyou’ll stay a Shell Energy customer, your service won’t be interrupted, and we’re still here to support you.

However, the expectation is that broadband customers will end up leaving the Shell Energy brand, either via a sale of the customer base to a new owner or via migration to a different company within the wider Octopus Group. But more on that later.

Statement from Octopus Energy Group

Shell Energy Retail Limited in the UK is wholly owned and fully operated by Octopus Energy Limited. As of 1 December 2023, Shell Energy Retail Limited is no longer a part of the Shell Group of Companies.

First, we want to assure you that you don’t need to do anything right now. We’ll be writing to all our customers from today, with more information about what the sale means for them – and sharing the latest updates on this page.

We’re still operating as usual, and our friendly Shell Energy teams are on hand to help you. Until your account migrates to Octopus Energy, there’s no need to contact them, and:

  • Your energy supply or broadband and phone service won’t be affected in any way
  • You’ll continue to receive email, letters, and bills from us
  • Your Direct Debit will continue to work, and there’s no need to cancel it 
  • You can still manage your account in My Account and on the Shell Energy app 
  • If you’re eligible for support payments such as the Warm Home Discount, they’ll still be added to your account
  • If you’ve got an appointment to have a smart meter installed, our partners will be there to do the work. You can still book an appointment, too 

It’s best not to switch over yourself before your account is transferred to Octopus. This is because it prevents them from accessing your historical account information, such as bills and meter readings.

Please rest assured that we’re focused on making sure the transition is seamless. Octopus have considerable experience of migrating customers, so your account will be in safe hands.

As usual, further information can be found on the Shell Energy website, albeit adding nothing new for their broadband and phone users. Previous reports have indicated that Octopus Energy remain likely to divest their telecoms base and sell it off to another ISP, which could adopt a similar approach to what happened when Ovo Energy sold their SSE Broadband base to TalkTalk last year (here).

Similarly, TalkTalk itself might actually be quite a logical home for Shell’s broadband customers too, given that there is still an existing wholesale agreement in place with them. On the other hand, TalkTalk aren’t currently in the strongest of positions, financially speaking (debt is still a big problem), to do such a deal and that opens the door for other parties to take an interest (e.g. Vodafone or Sky Broadband seem like viable options).

However, it’s worth remembering that the connected Octopus Group are also the ultimate owner of investment firm Fern Trading, which itself owns several alternative full fibre networks and retail ISPs (e.g. Giganet, Cuckoo, Jurassic Fibre, Swish Fibre and All Points Fibre etc.) that are currently being consolidated (here). As part of that, Cuckoo is due to become the main retail ISP for the consolidated network, which could be another option for Shell’s base.

We should point out that Cuckoo’s platform also supports other networks, like CityFibre and Openreach, which is important because a lot of Giganet’s existing customers come from that side of things. Similarly, Shell Energy’s telecoms customers are entirely Openreach based. Hopefully the new owner will reveal more clarity on their future plans for the Shell Energy base soon, albeit probably not until after the New Year.

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
18 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    My brother is with Shell, we will have to see what happens. I hope they are not dumped to Talk Talk. Cuckoo is not that cheap, so he will not stay with them, he wants to pay as little as possible for his broadband.

    1. Avatar photo rob says:

      same here – and there have been some great deals out there – i may have a look and see if i can switch easily with no penalties.

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      If price is the main factor anything that works, TalkTalk or not, should be fine. He’s already using their network and Shell Broadband aren’t exactly famed for amazing support.

  2. Avatar photo rob says:

    Just wondering – if you are in contract with shell – do all the changes allow you to exit without any exit fees? I am coming to an end of the project anyway, think i only have 3 months left, but just wondering.

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Given there are no changes other than ownership for right now the answer would be ‘no’. The terms have to be changed to your detriment for you to be able to leave the contract early.

  3. Avatar photo Sam P says:

    Octopus have the worst customer support.
    Avoiding TrustPilot – which is hugely corrupt and cannot be trusted, look at other reviews and you’ll see how Octopus is slapping customers with huge bills suddenly (thousands) to trap them into staying.

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      All subjective though.
      I can’t say I have an issue with support, and have used several times in the last few years – but there have naturally been dips in service (e.g. shortly after taking on bulb’s customers), it’s to be expected.

      Still head and shoulders above others, like British Gas IMO.

    2. Avatar photo Sam P says:

      Try telling that to the 800+ people on reviews.io that now owe thousands and now being ignored

    3. Avatar photo XGS says:

      They aren’t inventing these bills from nowhere. If folks don’t want a smart meter and aren’t giving them readings what are they expecting to happen if not jumpy bills when the meter man finally comes around his once a year or so?

    4. Avatar photo XGS says:

      This you?

      https://reviews.io/company-review/store/octopus-energy/20183690

      Whoever that was it reads like they weren’t providing meter readings and have been asked to pay for the electricity they used now a reading has been made, with Octopus updating estimates for past bills to reflect usage and avoid future issues with huge overestimation. As long as they aren’t demanding the shortfall be paid off in an unreasonable time they’re doing nothing wrong.

      The alternative is that the bill is incorrect and that seems unlikely given I note nothing in the review about the usage mentioned being incorrect – the bill and the website will show kWh used and that’ll be reflected on the meter.

      Reads like they aren’t extorting that person to make them stay, merely asking that they pay for the electricity they’ve used. If that’s the case those people could do a lot worse than providing meter readings at least quarterly rather than sticking head in sand, hoping the estimate is correct, accusing the company of extortion for expecting to be paid for energy provided and wanting other customers to pay their bills for them.

      Almost everyone that’s had their own place without a smart meter has had estimated bills that were wrong. To ensure it doesn’t happen again a smart meter or giving them monthly readings: simple and takes a matter of seconds once a month.

    5. Avatar photo Groucho says:

      As XGS points out, if people don’t read their meter and keep tabs on what they are using, they will get themselves into difficulties. We have spoken to people who have no idea how much electricity they are using. My wife (a mere woman) reads our meter every day and sends a reading every month, when asked.I’ve stood behind people in the supermarket who have just spent a large amount on food but declined a receipt. Have they no interest in what they have spent? When we were first married, we lived in a house in Wales with no electricity for five and a half years. No meter problems there!

  4. Avatar photo Vince says:

    I imagine they’ll be moved to Cuckoo as part of the merge of various brands Octopus ultimately owns. Would make sense given that they’re setting up to do that for the various altnets they have.

  5. Avatar photo Andy says:

    Cuckoo used TalkTalk when they were still selling FTTC. If Shell are using TalkTalk, it should be possible to merge the 2 operations without having to do a major change from TalkTalk to Openreach etc.

  6. Avatar photo Meritez says:

    Copper Stop Sell makes migrating any of these Shell Energy customers a huge mess.

    1. Avatar photo Matt says:

      Not if they’re MPF which a high number of Shell’s customers are likely to be…. and as they already use Talk Talk and going to a network which already uses Talk Talk – it’ll be internal even if using SMPF products and thus no issue.

  7. Avatar photo Brian coles says:

    Will my standing order change.and which company will take it out of my account

    1. Avatar photo AndyK says:

      Do you mean Standing Order or Direct Debit? The two are fundamentally different.
      A Standing Order you are responsible for setting up and managing. You’ll need to change that yourself if they send you new payment details, and you’ll need to adjust the amount yourself if your bill changes.
      A Direct Debit is set up and managed by the company you are paying – in this case 99% of the time it’ll change automatically. The majority of people pay regular bill payments using Direct Debit.
      It is worth making sure you know which type of payment you’re making..!

  8. Avatar photo Angela Seal says:

    I have no landline to nite.and no broadband
    No connection to my carer company
    I am 74 years old

    Not impressed with the change over and am going to lodge an official complaint and want money credited to my account for loss of service

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