Is The Big Switch a Big Swizz?

electricity-meterOh, the good old Big Switch. Set up with absolutely no concern for the potential £millions of referral fees for Which?’s pocket, the Big Idea behind the Big Switch was that everyone could get together and secure the most money-saving energy deal possible. Now, the winner has been announced- but it's not the 280,000 people who signed up.

Co-operative Energy, which entered the energy market just one year ago, has offered market-leading tariffs that cost £1,048 per year for the average household paying by Direct Debit, and £1,144 per year if they pay by cash or cheque.

Executive director of Which!, Richard Lloyd, said: “The Big Switch has moved the energy market and secured a better deal for thousands of people, reaching people who have never switched before.”

He added, “the fact that one of the smaller suppliers, Co-operative Energy, was able to win shows that collective switching can help shake up the market for consumers and marks an important step on the road to energy market reform.”

Smaller suppliers beating the big boys? Big Switch co-partner 38 Degrees went even further saying “the Co-op offered us a better price than giants like British Gas. Maybe that's got something to do with their different business model.” Well, it could be a different business model, or it could be that British Gas, along with SSE, Ovo, Utilia and Ecotricity declined to participate in the Big Switch, over concerns of profiteering and predatory pricing that would adversely affect current customers.

Still, all 280,000 people who signed up have now got a really good deal haven’t they. Er, no.

Not only will the ‘best’ deal be limited to the first 30,000 people to sign up (just over 10% of the total), it isn’t even the best deal on the market. And the second choice deal for the other 90%? You could have signed up for that (EDF’s 'Blue +Price Promise tariff') weeks ago. According to uSwitch, First:Utility still offers the cheapest energy plan in the market today coming in at £21 a year cheaper than the price the Co-op is offering and £27 a year cheaper than EDF Energy's plan at £1,027 a year.

Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at, said "the Big Switch was a brave and bold move, but the outcome is disappointing. 280,000 people signed up, and yet the winning deal will only be offered to 30,000 on a first come, first served basis. This means that the lucky few will be leaving the process with a deal that is more expensive than the cheapest plan on the market, while those who get the fall back offer of EDF Energy's Blue+ Price Promise plan will be getting a tariff that is already readily available on the market and that they could have signed up to weeks ago.

She continued, "moreover, it's highly likely that there will be people who are already on more competitive tariffs. This is why we would urge everyone who has signed up to the Big Switch to run an independent price comparison, making sure to check the whole of the market. This is especially important for those who have switched before as the deals they are already on may actually be more competitive."

Which% and 38 Degrees will email all those who completed their registration for The Big Switch and give them a personalised estimate letting them know how much they could save with the new deal. People will have until 28 May to decide whether they will make the switch. Good work chaps.


  • Ken C.
    "it could be that British Gas, along with SSE, Ovo, Utilia and Ecotricity declined to participate in the Big Switch, over concerns of profiteering and predatory pricing" Yes, I'm sure that's exactly why they refused to participate, they had the consumers interests at heart.
  • Kevin
    38 degrees are a bunch of utter ****'s who have no idea how the real world works. Ever seen any of their emails? They don't like listening to the voters, that's for sure. They think a small number of people should have more of a say than those actually elected to power.
  • emw
    I recieved an email from 38 degrees this morning regarding the big switch. Ive checked with EDF andthe co op it turns out the edf tarrif is 15% more expensive than the one im on at the moment if this is a close second i cant see myself saving any money at all. While any effort to stop customers being ripped off is to be aplauded. Profitering from 'concern' certinally isnt . I had put great hopes in the 38 degrees / Which campaign. I sit here utterly disappointed by the result and by the way you have chosen to package this as a victory. I saw on whichs blog they were using terms like a market-leading energy deal something that was cheaper than anything else on offer we succeded- because im guessing both 38 degrees and which have'nt succeded at all . The figures dont lie and tryng to treat us like idiots it just makes them seem as dishonest as the energy companies themselves. Which? has admitted it will charge the winning energy companies £40 for each customer that switches to the deals on offer – a figure based on the need to cover financial risk and campaign costs. If 30,000 customers switch to the Co-op, Which? will make £1.2m. people powered fuckin swindle. i posted a complaint on 38 degrees facebook page and it was deleated - twice ! wankers.
  • Mr L.
    so that's where Anne Robinson ended up after the weakest link...
  • Idi A.
    Good luck to anybody who tries First:Utility because I found them to be utterly hopeless at any kind of customer service. @emw - perhaps your complaints were "deleated" because their spellchecker, grammarchecker and thickochecker filters were turned on?
  • buyer b.
    How much was Jonathan Maitland paid to front this campaign? .
  • shoplifter
    Which....the saviours of consumers ...bish and fiddlesticks
  • Mr p.
    To answer the articles question. Yes.
  • Ben
    When I moved into my new house three years ago, I used a service called to auto generate all the letters I needed to utilities, etc. It was free. They call me every september, to make sure I'm on the cheapest rate available (that they offer - I'm not a mug) I'm Currently with EDF, and am paying less year on year for gas and electric. Did I mention it was free? it was free.

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