Most of us probably know by now that one of the best ways to get a good deal on energy bills is to switch suppliers. Energy providers often have deals for new customers and you have to switch to them to benefit.
But what if you have to pay to switch energy suppliers? Will it still be worth leaving your current supplier and moving to a new one? We’ll take a look at whether you should be paying this fee, what you can do about it – and what Ofgem is doing to tackle unfair fees from energy companies.
What are the rules?
The energy regulator Ofgem has a simple rule when it comes to if you should pay to switch to a new supplier. If you’re in the last 49 days of your current energy deal, you shouldn’t have to pay anything if you want to move contracts. Before this time, you might have to pay an exit fee.
You can apply to switch before the last 49 days if you want – you just need to make sure you actually switch during your energy transfer window.
But according to a MoneySavingExpert.com investigation, some energy companies might have been giving out incorrect information to customers when they were looking to switch to another provider. Energy suppliers including British Gas, E.on and Npower got in touch with some customers to tell them that they’d need to pay an exit fee – even though they were actually in the window where they could switch for free.
What is Ofgem doing about this?
On the back of this, Ofgem is speaking to the energy companies who gave the wrong information to their customers. It’s not starting a formal investigation yet – it’s just reinforcing the rules about when customers might have to pay an exit fee and when they definitely shouldn’t.
The energy suppliers in question have looked at changing their terms and conditions and what they send out to customers who are trying to switch away from them. But we’ll just have to wait and see whether this new intervention from Ofgem will help to make the rules any clearer for customers.
Will I have to pay?
If you’re at the end of your current gas or electricity fixed price or you’re in the last 49 days, you shouldn’t have to pay to switch energy suppliers. Your new energy company should manage the switch and you shouldn’t end up paying two different suppliers at the same time.
But if you want to switch before the last 49 days of your energy deal, you will usually have to pay an exit fee. You should be able to find out what this is in the terms and conditions of your current policy.
If you’ve only got a few weeks before you’re in the energy switching window, it’s probably worth waiting until you can switch penalty-free. The cost of the exit fee would probably cancel out any savings you could make by getting on a cheaper tariff.
Looking for a new deal for your energy bills? Find out how you could switch your energy supplier to save money.