The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today published its provisional findings after a year-long investigation into the energy market.
One of the findings of the report is around the issue of switching between energy suppliers and tariffs, and highlights that there is a lack of knowledge around the deals available and how this deters many people from switching.
The energy market has today been encouraged to offer greater support to those customers who want to switch and we welcome this news. We know that one in 10 (11%) energy complaints last year related to transfers, so it is crucial that if switching is encouraged, that energy companies do more to make this an easy process for customers.
To help, Ombudsman Services provides some pointers below on how to be informed and prepared so that you know what you are signing up for and what action you need to take to avoid problems. And if something does go wrong when switching, we’re here to help.
Information to hand
Make sure that the information you pass to your energy provider is accurate and current. Incorrect meter readings may result in you paying more for the energy you use or perhaps getting a larger bill than usual at some time in the future.
Are you getting the best value deal? Use a comparison website to see if you can save money by switching supplier. Have your bills ready – you will need this information for the evaluation procedure. For more information about finding the best energy deal, visit Ofgem’s Go Energy Shopping website that’s full of useful information and handy guides to help you.
Understand what you’re signing up to
It is often cheaper to pay the same company for your gas and electricity (a dual fuel deal). Look out for fixed price tariffs so that you can be sure that changes in wholesale costs of gas and electricity won’t affect your bill. When you’ve made sure that you fully understand the terms of the contract and you’re satisfied that you’ve found the best deal, take action and switch provider.
Keep records of everything you do. Save copies of letters received and sent to companies, take a note of any phone-calls you make or receive. Take the name of the people you speak to and keep a record of the deal and what was discussed. Check the small print; look out for termination fees, automatic renewal clauses and whether the price can increase during the contract.
Each company must have and publish a complaints procedure. Get a copy and read it so that you know what to do if things go wrong. Know your rights – if you’re not happy with the way a complaint is handled or nothing has been sorted within eight weeks, the ombudsman is there as a safeguard to ensure that you are treated fairly and appropriately.