Advice on switching energy suppliers (part 2)
Posted by Caitlin Latimer on 22 March 2019 at 2:11 pm
Following on from the previous blog, this week will explain some of the more common problems of switching suppliers.
One of the more common problems with switching energy suppliers is when the incorrect handover (or opening) reading is used.
When you switch suppliers you need a handover reading so your previous supplier knows when to stop billing you, and your new supplier knows when to start billing you. Your new supplier will ask you to submit your opening reading and it is their responsibility to pass on this meter reading to your old supplier. So even if you give your old supplier the correct meter reading, they should technically be using the one provided by your new supplier – this should avoid two different readings being used and customers being double billed.
But if I supplied my own meter reading, shouldn’t it be used as the handover reading?
Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen and is a really frustrating issue with the industry. Energy suppliers have a third party company (data collectors) who work for them and validate meter readings - validating meter readings is a legal requirement within the energy industry. This makes sure the opening meter reading submitted looks in line with previous readings to ensure the final bill is roughly accurate. But often, the opening reading a customer submits is changed to a different figure.
How can I change my meter reading?
When you get a final bill and you see a crazy high charge don’t panic (just yet). Opening meter readings can be changed so speak to your new/ old supplier and see if they can do so. The general rule of thumb within the industry is that if your incorrect opening reading is at least 250kWh units (for electricity) greater/lower than your actual handover reading, or 150m^3 or 45 ft^3 for gas - then you should be able to change the reading. You may not be able to change it straight away as your supplier will need some ‘back-up’ readings to present to the other supplier to prove that your reading is an accurate opening reading. Previous readings can be used so you can always speak to your previous supplier to get these readings, if not you’ll need preferably at least 2 new readings at least a week apart.
If the reading is not greater/smaller than the 250kWh or the 150m^3 or 45 ft^3 threshold, then the energy supplier is not obligated to change the readings. But depending on the situation it may not amount to that much money, depending on the difference between your previous and new supplier’s unit rates.
The old tariff rate is 17p and the new one is 15p that’s only a difference of 2p per unit. Let’s say the difference between your opening readings is 200 kWh, that’s only a difference of £4*.
(*200kwh x 2p = 400p divided by 100= £4.00)
If you old supplier is more expensive than the new supplier, it actually works in your favour if the opening reading is lower as you’ll end up paying more to your new supplier on their cheaper rates.
What determines whether you’ll end up paying more or less is the unit price difference, unit difference and whether the opening reading is higher or lower than the actual reading.
Should I cancel my direct debit with my old supplier?
You shouldn’t need to manually cancel a direct debit as after the switch has been completed your previous supplier should stop taking payments. However if you are in debt they can continue to take payments until a final bill has been issued or you clear the debt – speak to your supplier about different payments options.
When will I get my final bill?
Final bills can take from 2-6 weeks to process as there is a validation process for the opening readings which can cause delays. It can take up to 6 weeks for an electricity reading to be validated but generally less time for gas. The opening meter reading needs to be validated and sent across to the old supplier before you will receive a final bill – so although your new supplier has the reading it doesn’t necessarily mean your old supplier will also have it.
If you receive a final bill and find that an incorrect handover reading has been used and you would like to change it, your new/old supplier can apply for the change. Depending on how long the process takes you won’t need to pay that final bill until the reading has been accepted by both suppliers and then a new final bill can be re-issued and then a final payment / refund can be made.
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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