Long energy switching times 'unacceptable'Brits wait five weeks to change supplier

03 October 2010

Image showing suitcse with switching times in different countries

As all energy suppliers use the same pipes and wires to get gas and electricity into your home, you'd think that switching between them to get a better deal would be a reasonably speedy process. However, new research by Which? has found that British consumers have to wait a lot longer than some of our European neighbours.

Switching in Britain takes five weeks on average. Norwegians, on the other hand, can switch supplier in a week, while in Finland and France getting yourself a new energy supplier takes less than three weeks.

Spare a thought for the Germans and the Belgians, who face average waits of six and eight weeks respectively.

It costs you money

Dr Philip Lewis, CEO of Vaasa ETT which compiled the figures for us, said: 'We see no reason why Britain should have a switching time of more than a week, but two weeks should definitely be the maximum.

'In our opinion, four to six weeks is unacceptable from a customer’s perspective. Inefficient processes cost suppliers and, ultimately, the customer money.'

Slow but easy

Switching may be slower here than in other countries, but 90% of Which? members said they found the process easy. Use our free switching service, Which? Switch, to compare energy deals, see ratings for suppliers from the Which? Switch utilities satisfaction survey, and switch to the tariff that suits you.

One of many problems

Which? energy expert, James Tallack, said: ‘Slow switching times are just one of a raft of problems faced by the unfortunate British energy customer. Our latest investigation into energy tariffs revealed a lack of transparency around better deals, lengthy contracts that lock in customers, and late notification of price changes that mean that many consumers could be paying more than they need to for their energy.’

Which? is campaigning for minimum standards for energy tariffs to be part of the upcoming Energy Bill that will go through Parliament before Christmas. Last week Which? secured a commitment from the government to force suppliers to inform their customers in advance of price changes – up until now they've had up to 65 working days (13 weeks) after the change to let customers know.

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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