A group of energy suppliers representing around 70% of the entire market has joined together to sign a new commitment designed to ensure customers are always getting the best deals on their energy.
The Energy Switch Guarantee is “an industry-led initiative which aims to increase customers’ confidence in the switching process” and is the result of co-operative efforts from energy suppliers, the government, and trade association Energy UK.
It consists of a set of 10 commitments focused around all aspects of the switching process, ensuring lack of hassle throughout, and ensuring the smooth passing of responsibility from a customer’s current supplier to the new one they sign up with.
These include a commitment that the switching process takes no more than 21 days from the date that the new provider receives an application, as well as that the new provider actually arranges all of the logistics of the switch.
There is also a 14 day grace period, starting when you receive the details of your new plan, during which you are free to change your mind.
At no point during the process will you be charged, other than for energy already used.
The signatories of the Guarantee include the UK’s largest independent supplier, First Utility, along with Big Six members British Gas, E.ON, EDF Energy and npower; smaller suppliers Octopus Energy, So Energy; and Sainsbury’s Energy, owned by the supermarket chain.
Providers who have signed up (the list of which is set to grow in the coming months) can be identified by the following logo:
Each signatory of the Guarantee has agreed to “have their performance against its standards relating to the commitments regularly scrutinised to ensure compliance”.
The chair of the Energy Switch Guarantee, Tina Tietjen, said: “The Guarantee is a major commitment by suppliers – from the largest to some of the newest suppliers in the market – and it aims to reassure consumers who may have reservations about switching. It also means that, on the very rare occasion anything goes wrong, customers will have the assurance they need that the issue will be resolved by their supplier.
“More and more companies are working to ensure they can meet the commitments of the Guarantee. It already covers around 70 per cent of the market and it has an ambition to reach over 90 per cent by October 2016. But it will not be enough to just sign up, companies have high standards to meet and maintain. I will be holding them to account in the interests of all customers.”
The Guarantee has been in the pipeline for a short while now, having been first announced in theory during George Osborne’s summer budget 2015, and formally in a treasury report published in November of the same year.
It came about after research that showed that despite a wide variety of different energy tariffs available, many customers had never switched supplier and were left on expensive plans.
Switching rates have since been improving, with more than two million customers having changed supplier in the last five months, and more than 350,000 in May alone – almost 50% more than in May 2015.
Of these switches, nearly 30% were from customers moving to “small and mid-tier” providers, showing increased customer awareness of, and confidence in, providers other than the Big Six.
Energy UK’s chief executive, Lawrence Slade, described the boost in switches since the start of the year as “fantastic news” and said that with this new initiative, these figures are only likely to get better.
He said: “The new Energy Switching Guarantee will give customers the extra boost of confidence to engage in the market. Industry has been working hard to put customers at the heart of what we do, and with the CMA set to give its final recommendations, the Guarantee is certainly a step in the right direction.”
Currently in the pipeline still is a plan to introduce a ‘switch in a day’ guarantee, in accordance with legislation announced during the Queen’s speech. According to Energy UK, the “Government has the ambition to introduce reliable next day switching by the end of 2018.”