Auto-switching is a modern, time and money-saving way to manage your household bills and ensure that you don’t end up on excessively high charges.
What is auto-switching?
When you sign up to an energy tariff, the terms of the contract are generally for a fixed period of time. After that time, most companies will move you on to what is known as a standard variable tariff or default tariff. This is generally the most expensive tariff that they have. So unless you’re aware of your current deal ending and are able to stay on top of things to switch to another tariff, you may find that you’re moved to a more expensive tariff.
While we’d all like to think that we’ll read the relevant emails and remember to switch, life is unpredictable and it’s easy to overlook what might seem like a very minor change to your energy bills. In fact, it could be argued that some energy companies operate by intentionally providing customers with as excess of unnecessary information, in order to deliberately cause them to ignore more major changes like this.
Auto-switching is designed to prevent you getting stuck in this consumer trap. The idea is that you sign up once and then bam, that’s it, the auto-switching service will take care of everything for you. Every time your energy contract ends, they will search their database for the best deal they can find for you, and switch you on to it without you having to do anything. It’s an excellent concept.
What is the hitch?
Okay, here’s the rub. The way that switching websites make money is complicated and very competitive. For the energy company to appear on the switching service’s website, there needs to be an agreement between the two companies. If there’s no agreement, then their tariffs won’t appear on that search, meaning that you could be missing out on the best deal simply because it didn’t show up on the search.
Even if a company does show up on your search, it’s possible that you can get a better deal on another switching site, because energy companies have a habit of offering exclusive discounts through certain websites. The upshot of all this is essentially that the same search on two different switching websites may turn up two completely different sets of results.
With that in mind, the problem with auto-switching is that you’re committed to one switching service and limited to the deals, tariffs, and energy companies that they have access to. So by signing up to an auto-switching service, you’ll be getting the best deal that they can get you, but this may not necessarily be the best deal on the market.
Should I use auto-switching for my energy bills?
The answer to this really comes down to time, personality, and convenience. Auto-switching is a great way to save you money, and is by far the most convenient way to manage your bills, meaning that you don’t need to worry about it again.
However, if you would rather have more control over your finances and are willing to spend the time at the end of every contract to search for the best deal, you could end up saving yourself some money. The only issue with this is that if you fail to switch at the end of your contract, you could be moved on to the very expensive standard tariff and end up paying a lot more. So if there’s a good chance of you forgetting to do that, auto-switching could be the way.
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