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How to avoid problems with your energy supplier

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X-Ray production team X-Ray production team | 16:58 UK time, Friday, 5 March 2010

Switching suppliers

The competition between energy companies is heating up as more people switch between providers searching for the best deal. But as far as household utilities are concerned, it appears the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence.

The Energy Ombudsman has received almost 6,000 complaints in the last year, with billing disputes at the top of the list followed by problems switching supplier.


gas.jpgX-Ray's top tips on avoiding problems with your energy supplier:

  • Read your meter regularly, keep records of your readings and make sure they are appearing on your bills - if they're not, or you spot a problem on your bill, contact your supplier as soon as possible.
  • If you run into difficulties with your supplier you should give it eight weeks to resolve matters.
  • Consumer Direct can advise you on the best way to complain in the first instance.
  • If you are still not happy you can ask the Energy Ombudsman to look at your case. 

What to look for when choosing an energy supplier (source: Consumer Direct):

  • What are the supplier's prices? Does the price include VAT?
  • What payment options does the supplier offer?
  • Is there a penalty for cancellation of the contract?
  • Does the supplier offer any special discounts, schemes, or incentives?
  • Does the supplier have any extra or hidden charges?
  • Do they have a high number of complaints?

How to change supplier (source: Consumer Direct)

Once you are happy that you have selected the supplier best suited to meet your needs, changing is a relatively simple process.

Step 1: Get in touch with the new supplier and agree a contract with them. Once the contract is agreed, the transfer process should take about six weeks to complete. Your new supplier will keep you informed about how your transfer is being progressed.

Step 2: Give your old supplier 28 days notice that you are changing to a new supplier. We advise that you do this initially by telephone and follow it up with written confirmation. If you do not tell your old supplier that you are changing, this can disrupt or delay your transfer to the new supplier.

Step 3: Pay any outstanding bills owing to your existing supplier. If you do not, they may prevent you from transferring.

Step 4: Take a meter reading on the day you change supplier. If your old supplier does not use it to work out your final bill, or your new supplier does not use it as the starting point for your first bill, let them know the meter reading you have taken.


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