Is switching a good idea?
We’ve all heard that we should be switching suppliers, but why? It seems like a bit of an inconvenience if there’s no good reason for it. Why is everyone always talking about switching energy supplier?
Well, the answer is simple: to save you money. The way that an energy contract works is a lot like a mobile phone contract – you sign up to a certain rate for a certain length of time, and once this time is up you are moved onto a rolling monthly contract. A default rate. The problem is that, much like with your phone, this default rate is almost always the most expensive tariff the company offers.
That’s why people encourage switching. It’s about staying off those expensive default tariffs, and making sure you get the most bang for your buck. It’s working too – over 6.4 million of us changed our energy supplier in 2019.
Where does the £30 for switching come in?
Energy companies in this country are pretty closely regulated. Ofgem is the watchdog for all things energy, and they work with the government to create rules about what gas and electricity companies have to do to look after their customers and comply with the law. This year, they announced that they were enforcing a rule to compensate customers who had trouble switching because of their energy company.
Starting in May 2020, the new rules say that your new energy company has to pay you £30 compensation if you’re switched by mistake, your switch takes longer than 15 working days, or if your final bill doesn’t arrive within 6 weeks.
What do I have to do to claim my £30?
If you fall into one of the above scenarios, you are entitled to the full £30. Theoretically, you don’t have to do a thing – it should come to you automatically. Different suppliers can use different methods to award you your compensation, so it may come as a bank transfer, a cheque, or credit to your pre-payment meter.
We say theoretically because it’s a new system and energy suppliers are generally reluctant to pay out if they can see a way around it. If you think you’re due compensation for switching, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your energy supplier – either your new one or old one. It’s their responsibility to get thing sorted, but if they aren’t doing their job properly then it might be worth getting in touch with the Energy Ombudsman.
The Energy Ombudsman are an independent body approved by Ofgem who aim to handle disputes between energy suppliers and customers. They’ve promised that any enquiries regarding problems with switching – including about the payment of automatic compensation – will be escalated for free. You can contact them here.
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