Generally speaking, anyone can switch their energy supplier – and it’s both quick and easy to do so. However, there are some circumstances in which you might not be able to change your provider, including:
It is possible for your current energy supplier to block your switch to another supplier if you have an outstanding debt to pay them. This debt could also deter a new supplier from accepting you.
Debt is considered outstanding when the money owed has been unpaid for more than 28 days, and amounts to £500 or more. If you owe less than £500 and you’re on a prepayment meter, it is still possible to switch supplier.
However, if you are ‘in debt’ due to a fault by your current supplier – for example, if they have not amended your Direct Debit to cover a usage increase – then they will not be able to block a transfer.
If you are on a fixed term contract and the expiry date outlined at the start of your agreement has not yet arrived, then you may face a termination fee if you switch to a different tariff/supplier before such date. Whilst not a blocker, it’s worth checking and weighing up to ensure you’re making the right choice.
The ‘switching window’ for your fixed term contract opens 49 days before the contract end date. If you are within that 49 day period, then you can arrange a new energy contract – to start after your current one expires – without incurring a termination charge.
If you currently have a meter that isn’t supported by the tariff you’re looking to switch to, such as a prepayment meter, then you might be unable to switch. In order to proceed, you’d need to consider either changing your meter type e.g. standard credit, prepayment or economy 7 or opting for a different tariff which is configurable to the meter type you have installed.
Comparison services will display the suppliers that are compatible with your tariff and meter preferences, so that you can make a more informed decision when switching.
If you would like to switch the gas and/or electricity supplier for a property that you don’t own, for example if you’re in rented accommodation, then it is possible that you will be unable to do so without permission from the property owner.
If you are responsible for paying the energy bills at the property, and the bills are in your name, then you have the right to choose your supplier. However, if the bills are in your landlord’s name, then switching supplier is ultimately their decision. It’s still possible to switch supplier in this case, but you will need to discuss this with your landlord.
Overall, whatever the rejection reason, if your current supplier does object to you switching due to an unfulfilled contract, they are under a licence obligation to inform you of this as soon as possible. They must explain the reason why they have objected, and – if applicable – provide details on how you can resolve this.
If you think that any of the above stipulations might apply to you, or you would like to discuss your switching options with one of our savings experts, give us a call on 0800 320 2000.