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1 May 2019

Energy supplier switching problem? You might be due compensation

New rules mean customers could be eligible for £30 if something goes wrong

Gas and electricity customers plagued by problems switching supplier will get automatic compensation from today, thanks to new rules.

You could get compensation for being switched without your permission, or if your credit balance is not refunded within 10 days of your old supplier sending you your final bill.

In both cases you should receive £30 or more, and you won't have to ask for it because the compensation is automatic.

The new rules, or guaranteed standards, are set by energy regulator Ofgem, and companies are liable to pay compensation for failing to meet them from today (May 1).

Ofgem plans to add extra rules later in the year requiring suppliers to complete switches within 21 days and issue final bills within six weeks of switching. Once all are in force, the regulator estimates that customers will receive £73.1m in payouts per year.

Read on to find out whether you could be eligible for compensation. Or use Which? Switch to compare gas and electricity prices to find the best price and customer service for you.

Am I eligible for compensation?

You should get compensation for switching problems covered by the new rules from today. They apply only to switches that start on or after 1 May. So unfortunately if you're already having problems, you won't get compensation.

Compensation is payable when you're switched to another supplier without your permission; this is called 'erroneous transfer'. The maximum compensation for this is £120 if your supply is not transferred back to your original supplier in a 'timely fashion'.

£30 is payable if your supplier fails to repay you any money owing to you within 10 working days of sending you a final bill.

How do I get compensation for my energy switch?

Suppliers will have to offer compensation to customers automatically if they fail to meet the new standards, and will have to choose a 'suitable means of payment'.

If you've faced one of these problems but compensation is not paid automatically, you should notify the supplier because you're entitled to claim the money.

In the case of erroneous transfers, the supplier will need to make 'reasonable endeavours' to locate and compensate customers whose details they do not have.

If compensation payments are not made on time, customers will be entitled to extra compensation.

How common are energy-supplier switching problems?

Most energy customers who switch do so without problems. Just 5% of those who switched energy supplier said that they found it difficult or very difficult, according to our latest survey.*

In contrast, 57% said they found switching very easy.

But among those who found it difficult, the main reasons were poor or confusing information from the old supplier, or that the process was slow.

Top three switching problems

How to switch energy supplier hassle-free

Follow these steps to get an accurate quote from a price-comparison website and help your switch go smoothly:

  • Find the details of your current tariff and energy supplier, plus your annual use in kWh (look on your latest bill).
  • Use a service such as Which? Switch to compare gas and electricity prices, to see how much you could save.
  • Check whether your chosen supplier is signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee - if so, it pledges to complete your switch within 21 days.
  • Complete your application to switch. Your new supplier will inform your current supplier and there will be a 14-day cooling-off period.
  • Send your new supplier meter readings shortly before your switch is completed.
  • Ask your old supplier for your final bill if you don't receive it within a month or so.

Read more about switching energy supplier.

Our energy pricing research

We conducted an online survey of 7,429 GB energy customers in September 2019, 3,310 of whom said they had actively switched supplier.