Before you decide to change your energy supplier, you should get an objective view about the benefits of doing so. It is useful to use an Internet price comparison service to compare the different offers available to you and the amount of money that you can save. You should be aware that if you are in debt with your current supplier or have a bill that has been outstanding for 28 days, your energy supplier can object to any transfer of your account until the outstanding amount has been paid.
For a list of price comparison services accredited by Consumer Focus see:
You may also like to consider the number of complaints that have been received in relation to the largest energy providers before making any final decision. Statistics and further information setting out details of consumer complaints can be found on the Consumer Focus website at:.
No, you are free to remain with your existing supplier. Until you sign a contract with the new supplier, they cannot supply you.
Remember, if you decide to change supplier, there is no hurry to sign a contract. Shop around for the best deal and look for other offers. If you are asked to sign a document described as a registration form or proof of visit form, check that it is not a contract or an agreement. Some unscrupulous sales representatives may hide a contract underneath the form or try to get you to sign without your knowledge.
Remember - the agreement will contain a lot of small print. Always read the small print before signing the contract.
When you sign up with a new supplier, you will enter into a legally binding contract. The contract will contain many terms and conditions relating to such matters as methods of repayments, cancellation periods and the duration of the contract.
This will depend on where and when you signed the new contract. If you signed at home following an unsolicited visit from the company (this means you did not invite the company round to your property), then the new supplier must give you a notice of cancellation giving you a minimum of seven days in which to change your mind and cancel the agreement. If you have signed a contract at home and not been given a cancellation notice, contact your local Trading Standards Service or Citizens Advice Bureau for advice. The contract may be illegal and void if no cancellation notice has been provided. The clock starts running from the day that you signed the agreement so you will need to act quickly.
If you have received sales literature or contract details via the Internet, television, mail order, telephone or by fax, you must be given a period of seven working days in which to cancel. This is calculated from the day after that on which you agreed to go ahead with the contract. During this time you can change your mind and cancel the contract. You must do this in writing.
Some companies may give you longer to change your mind. Do not be afraid to ask about the cancellation period and always check that it is written on the contract. If you sign on the trader's premises then you will not have any automatic cancellation rights.
There are many companies that offer packages to supply you with both gas and electricity. Although this may seem a good deal, you may be able to obtain the services more cheaply from different suppliers. Always shop around for the best deal. If you decide to go for a dual fuel contract, ensure you know how much you will be paying for each service and when you will be billed.
Transitions are not always smooth and some consumers have complained that there has been overlap so that a prior supplier continues to bill for a period when a new supplier has been appointed. If this happens, try to resolve it directly with the company which should not have charged you by sending it a copy of the bill from the other supplier. If the matter cannot be settled informally, you will need to make a formal complaint.
In the past, some consumers have fallen unwitting victims to rogues who have made applications secretly and without their consent, in order to make a commission. Of course, the first the consumer hears of it, is when the supplier makes a demand for payment. If someone impersonates you in this way, it is fraudulent behaviour which amounts to a form of theft. You should report it to your local police station and advise Trading Standards Officers. In civil law, a contract would also be void on the basis of illegality or under the doctrine of mistake.
Even if you have signed a contract, you may still be able to challenge it if: