Now you can switch your energy supplier in half the time
As the temperature cools, so might your affection for your energy supplier, and this is often the time people think about switching. However, as everyone who’s ever switched knows, changing energy supplier appears to be a long and laborious process that takes around five weeks- which going from today would take us up until Christmas. However, this is one thing that is about to change, with switching times set to fall to just two and a half weeks.
The 17 day switching time was actually a target set for energy suppliers by Ofgem back in June, and suppliers have until the end of the year to get their fingers out and sort the faster switching. Of course, keen small supplier First Utility has already got its systems sorted, and anyone switching to them from this week onwards will benefit from faster switching. Particularly handy when First Utility are currently topping the best buy energy table.
First Utility have also been asking people what they think. According to Ofgem, 40% of households have never switched energy provider. British Gas must be laughing all the way to the bank. First Utility’s poll suggested that 70% of UK bill payers would be inclined to switch gas and electricity supplier if the process took less time and effort. Because saving money clearly isn’t worth any time and effort for these people…
However, before you get all excited about two-and-a-bit week switching, Ofgem has more dramatic plans up its sleeves. The two weeks plus three days deadline was calculated taking into account the EU imposed 14-day cooling off period for switchers, plus three working days for the energy company to actually effect the switch. But Ofgem are not happy with this either and are working towards one-day switching by the end of 2018 “at the latest”. While the 14 day cooling-off period will remain, Ofgem wants this to run after the switch, as after all, if switching only takes a day, it will be relatively easy to switch back if you change your mind. First Utility's research showed that 41% of bill payers think switching gas and electricity supplier should take one to two weeks, while 46% think it should take less than a week, highlighting consumer appetite for even faster switching.
Dermot Nolan, Ofgem’s CEO, said: “Consumers can change their bank in seven days, their mobile phone in just a couple, but have to wait significantly longer to switch their energy supplier. We know that consumers want a reliable and efficient switching process, and that concerns about it going wrong can put them off shopping around for a better deal. So now that we have taken steps to make the market simpler, clearer, fairer, we are leading a programme which will deliver faster, more reliable switching.”
Ian McCaig, CEO, First Utility said: “This is an important milestone for the industry… By making it easier to switch supplier, more consumers will be encouraged to seek out the best deals and help to significantly reduce their bills.”
So while First Utility are now pioneers of the medium-faster switching service, we will have to wait and see if all the other suppliers can also step up by the end of the year.