It’s easier than ever to switch providers but people still don’t bother, often just putting up with high-priced tariffs and poor customer service.
Right now though you could be sitting on a pot of money after using less power during the summer. Research by uSwitch earlier this year showed 11 million British households are in credit to energy suppliers with 1 in 10 having more than £200 ready to be refunded.
But in my own case, I’m nearly £480 in credit and almost a month after switching, I am still waiting for this back from my old provider.
Switching doesn’t always go smoothly either. We see many users raising issues around it when readings go wrong and are noted incorrectly leading to high initial bills. Energy complaints are generally lower than other regulated sectors, which chimes with recent Ofgem research showing complaint numbers around energy providers have halved since 2014.
However, switching and billing issues are always key customer issues and I agree with Ofgem’s findings that complaints about poor complaint handling is becoming more common and is causing people to switch.
So how can you head off issues with your energy provider and if you want to complain about a switch or need to raise the issue formally with the Ombudsman Services, what can you do?
If you’re coming to the end of a cheap introductory deal, make sure you know the date it finishes. Look through your bills and compare the cost of moving to the company’s variable rate, taking a new deal with them or switching entirely to a new provider. It’s important not to forget that not all variable rates are good value.
It’s your money and now thanks to a rule by the regulator, you only have to ask for it back and can do so at any time. You could do this via a template email to your provider using resolver.co.uk. The system will then allow you to track the request and if things go wrong provide a timeline of your issues as proof of when it was asked for. Remember though, if you take too much back it could lead to a higher bill in the future to make up any shortfall created over the winter months.
Mistakes do happen. I’ve heard of cases where meter readings have been inputted wrongly leading to abnormal bills. Keep a regular check on your meter and take photos on your phone of the readings as proof. This is very important when switching or moving home. As soon as you notice a problem, raise it with the supplier. It can get very messy if you allow it to drag on and while the energy provider will be able to work out all the complicated numbers, it always becomes very confusing for the customer to do the maths. All suppliers will aim to deal with you promptly but if you do need to raise a complaint, doing it via Resolver allows you to easily and automatically escalate it all the way up to the Ombudsman Services for consideration if things do get heated.