Switching from one energy supplier to another is in most cases a straightforward process that can help reduce household bills. However, in some cases problems can occur.
The most common things that can go wrong with energy switching are detailed below along with tips on how resolve them so that you can complete your switch.
Overpaying for energy
In some cases, people can end up paying for more energy than they actually use.
For example, if an engineer came to read your meter but was unable to get access, you could find that you receive an estimated bill from your energy supplier that is higher than you expected.
If this happens to you, you should call or write to your supplier and ask for a refund. Most companies tend to refund money through cheques, rather than re-crediting your account, so make sure you also ask for written confirmation of your refund as proof of the agreement.
To avoid being overcharged through estimated bills, you should opt for an online-only account. This will enable you to enter and keep track of your meter readings via the internet.
Paying another person’s bill
If you’ve just moved home, or are planning to move, there are steps you need to take to ensure you don’t end up paying for the previous occupant’s energy.
As soon as you move in to your new property, you should take a meter reading and pass it on to your new energy supplier. You should then check this reading against your first bill for your new home to make sure that you have been billed for the correct amount, and also for the correct meter.
Before deciding to change energy suppliers, you must make sure you are up to date with payments to your existing provider, as any outstanding bills could prevent you from switching. If you’re in debt but now pay your bills by direct debit and are able to switch providers, be aware that the full outstanding balance will automatically be taken from your account when you change providers.
If you’re struggling to keep up with you energy bills or are concerned about rising costs, let your current supplier know as they may offer capped or special-rate tariffs which are ideal for vulnerable customers.
Switched by accident
There are rare cases when a person may find that they’ve been switched to a new energy supplier by accident.
For example, you may have been sent a final bill from your old supplier, or a new bill from a different supplier, despite you never asking to switch.
If this happens to you, you need to contact either your old or new energy provider.
Under the Erroneous Transfer Customer Charter set out by Consumer Focus and Ofgem – the UK’s energy market regulator, the supplier you contact must explain how they plan on resolving the issue and when you can expect to be transferred back to your old supplier (your switchback date).
After five days, you should receive written confirmation of the details provided including an explanation, if possible, of why the switch occurred. Twenty days after your initial contact you should receive confirmation of your switchback date.
If you have any problems going back to your original energy supplier, you should contact Ofgem or Consumer Focus directly.
Switching under contract
If you’re on a fixed-rate or capped or price plan and want to switch before the end of the offer period, you may have to pay an exit fee to your current supplier. However, you should not let this deter you from switching as the amount of money you could save by changing suppliers might be greater than the fee you have to pay. They key is to do your research and work out the difference before making a decision.
Details on exit fees are included in the terms and conditions of your contract, so make sure you read them carefully before switching. See Energy suppliers’ exit fees for more information.