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Energy customers are struggling to switch

Time-of-use customers trapped in their tariff


Some energy customers are finding themselves trapped in their current tariff, unable to switch

Around one in six time-of-use tariff customers has experienced problems when trying to switch away from their tariff or provider, according to new Which? research.

We’ve found that time-of-use tariff customers have fallen victim to incorrect meter clocks (March 2014, p7) and unfair higher price rises than single electricity customers (June 2014, p8). Some have also been inadvertently paying more than single electricity customers (September 2014 pg8).

These issues would make any Time of Use Tariff customer keen to switch tariff or supplier – but it seems like even that isn’t a simple process.

Stuck with their supplier and meter

We surveyed 427 Which? members over March, April and May 2014, and found that 17% said they’d had difficulty during the switching process.

Some were unable to compare energy deals due to the specific nature of their meter or unique tariff, which was sometimes only offered by one supplier. This meant they couldn’t check whether they were getting a good deal or not.

Others were told that they couldn’t switch supplier because the new supplier wouldn’t accept their meter, and some were even told they’d have to pay to have their meter changed, potentially negating any savings they might make.

Finding it hard to switch?

If you are on Economy 7 and you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, visit Which? Switch to compare electricity deals.

To find out if you’d be better off switching to a single electricity tariff, take a look at several old bills. If you can see that you’re using less than 30% of your electricity at night, you could pay less with single electricity.

For customers on other time-of-use tariffs, we recommend that you ring your supplier to discuss your tariff and your typical energy usage, and ask them to calculate whether you’d save by switching tariff.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said “It’s totally unfair that people on time-of-use tariffs are not able to switch to better deals. Energy companies need to make it easier for these customers to compare tariffs and switch – if they don’t we would expect Ofgem to take a close look at this issue.”

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