“What points should I consider before changing
my gas or electricity supplier?”
You are now able to choose who you want to supply your gas and electricity.
For some people this may be a way to save money on bills. But you need to be
sure about what service you are going to get and how much it is actually going
to cost you.
Energy companies can promote their services in four ways:
- by advertising, for example in newspapers, on the television or radio;
- by sending direct mail, for example leaflets through your door;
- by telephoning you directly at home without being asked (commonly known
as a ‘cold call’);
- by knocking on your door and making an uninvited call (commonly known as
Whichever method the suppliers use, think carefully about whether changing
your supplier will actually save you money. You don’t have to change suppliers
and your existing supplier may be cheaper for you. No-one can change your supply
unless you sign a contract with the new supplier.
What should I do if someone asks me to change my supplier?
If you are approached on the street, or someone knocks at your door or
rings you at home telling you that you can save money by getting your gas or
electricity from them, first:
- Make sure they are not a bogus caller – always ask for identification.
- Check for any hidden costs.
- Check that the service they are offering is the same as you are getting
from your existing supplier.
- Ask how long the contract is for – is there a minimum period?
- Ask how you can cancel the contract and if there are any cancellation charges.
- Check if there are any standing charges.
- Check how often you will get a bill or a statement and what method of payment
they offer, for example, direct debit, instalment plans, prepayment meters.
- Check whether the contract is for a fixed period with a right to renew at
the end of the period or is a ‘rolling’ contract which lasts for an indefinite
- Ask who you can contact for more information.
- be pressurised into making a decision straight away – you can shop around
until you find the right supplier for you;
- feel afraid to ask for time to consider what they have said – you may wish
to discuss the matter with friends or family to see what they think; >
- sign anything unless you are sure what it is (a salesperson can ask you
to sign a form confirming that they have called on you – be careful that this
is not an agreement and, if you are unsure, politely say that you do not wish
to sign anything).
What happens after a supplier contacts me and I sign an agreement
to change my supplier?
- You have to give your existing supplier 28 days notice.
- The supplier should contact you within 14 days after you have signed the
agreement to make sure that you realise you have signed a contract and that
you were satisfied with the salesperson who called.
- They should not ask you for money in advance.
- If you signed the contract at home after an unrequested visit from a salesperson
then you have seven days from when you signed the agreement to change your
mind (see the Factsheet 3 on ‘What rights do I have when
I buy goods from home?’).
What should I do if I have a complaint?
If you have a complaint about your electricity or gas supplier or you think
your supplier has changed without your authorisation then:
- write to the supplier explaining the problem and ask them to put it right;
- ask them to reply to you within 14 days of receiving the letter and let
them know that, if they do not reply, you will refer the matter to Energywatch
(this is an independent body that the Government has set up to deal with complaints
or problems about gas and electricity suppliers);
- take a copy of the letter and send it recorded delivery.
If you do not receive a reply or are unhappy with their response:
Telephone or write to Energywatch (see factsheet 15 for
contact details) who will give you advice about what to do next or will investigate
REMEMBER You don’t have to change your supplier. Be careful about what you
sign. If unsure, take time to discuss the matter with friends or family. Don’t
be pressurised into making a decision.