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Since the start of the year, five ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers (EDF, Npower, E.On, SSE, and Scottish Power) have announced steep increases of between 8-10% in their standard tariff, leaving millions of households in the UK paying around £100 more for their gas and electricity bills.

The various reasons cited for these price hikes include the weakening of the pound compared to the US Dollar, an increase in wholesale costs, and the expense of delivering the national smart meter rollout (a government policy that energy suppliers are required to deliver by 2020).

And although other large energy suppliers have yet to announce price rises of their own, it’s a safe bet that it’ll just a matter of time until all standard tariffs go up. In the past few months we have noted an average increase of 10p per day on the standing charges of some energy suppliers, which will impact the poorest in society because it is charged regardless of much much energy is used. To compound matters, the Guardian recently reported that there are 77 fixed-price tariffs due to expire before the end of April, meaning thousands of UK households will automatically be moved onto an expensive standard tariff unless they take action.

This is why it is vitally important for people to switch, to make sure they are not paying over the odds on their energy bills. Last year, we collectively overpaid £2 billion too much to energy suppliers because 88% of us didn’t switch.

If someone is currently on a standard tariff, BHESCo would recommend that they sign up to a fixed tariff as soon as possible and lock in to a good price for 12 or 24 months. For households whose fixed tariff is due to expire soon, you can switch to a new fixed tariff up to 40 days in advance of your current contract ending, without having to pay an exit fee. Details of your tariff expiration date can be found on your bill.

There are various energy tariff comparison websites you can use, but BHESCo finds My Utility Genius the easiest.

If you would like free and reliable advice on finding the best energy tariff for your home, please contact BHESCo today:

phone: 0800 999 6671

email: bills@bhesco.co.uk

big energy saving NetworkFor the second year, BHESCo has been a champion for the Big Energy Saving Network, a national programme that aims to encourage people to save money on their energy bills by switching supplier or tariff.

It is important to review your energy tariff annually, comparing prices against the market to make sure that you’re not paying too much for your energy supply.  The idea is that by switching frequently, consumers can minimise the price they pay, forcing suppliers to keep prices low to retain their customers.

Unfortunately, the energy industry is plagued by inertia, and very few consumers exercise their right to switch annually, if indeed ever. Latest figures estimate that roughly 7 in 10 people are on an expensive standard tariff, paying on average £305 more than the cheapest tariffs available.

The goal of the Big Energy Saving Network is for Champions to go into their communities to engage consumers with their energy bills, demonstrating that there are many choices available and that great savings can be made by those who choose to switch.

As a BESN Champion, BHESCo was able to establish nearly 20 energy advice desks around the city, stretching all the way from Hangleton to Whitehawk and from Moulsecomb to the Lanes. Locations varied from universities to children’s centre’s, health surgeries to pubs, and even to the heart of the Council in Bartholomew House.

By the time the programme finished, we helped over one hundred people to save a combined total of £5,020 on their annual energy bills. In addition, we helped people to qualify for the Warm Home Discount, tackle debt to suppliers, and make their homes more energy efficient.

Being a part of the Big Energy Saving Network has given us a fantastic opportunity to get out into the community and meet the many wonderful people that make Brighton and Hove what it is. We are immensely thankful to every foodbank and community cafe that welcomed us through their doors, and we look forward to seeing all our new friends again when the next BESN starts in October 2016.

In the meantime, for impartial and expert advice on your energy bills, please email us at bills@bhesco.co.uk.

(clockwise from top left): at Hangleton Foodbank, at Hollingdean Community Café, at the Brighthelm, at Brighton Dome

(clockwise from top left): with the team at Hangleton Foodbank, a satisfied customer at Hollingdean Community Centre, giving advice at the Brighthelm, energy desk at International Womens Day at Brighton Dome

 

best-and-worst-energy-suppliers-2015-391657BHESCo has helped more than 200 people switch their energy supplier from November 2014 to February 2015 to help them save money by switching energy suppliers. This process is made overly complex by energy suppliers who resist for reasons that are not obvious the customer. In this example, the customer was blocked from switching by the previous tenant’s supplier, First Utility, to the supplier of their choice.

What was the switching problem?

This person moved into a new flat in Hove at the beginning of March 2015 and approached EDF to be his energy supplier eleven days later. He wanted to change from the previous tenant’s energy supplier, First Utility. EDF informed them a couple of weeks later that this switch was unable to take place and stated “your current energy supplier isn’t allowing us to transfer you and we’re not sure why”.

First Utility was contacted and they stated that the account was not live. However, even after three subsequent attempts EDF had still not been allowed to make the switch by May 2015. This was two months after the initial attempt to change supplier.

Following this, First Utility was contacted numerous times by this person in an effort the make this switch possible. Each time a new excuse was given and his call was transferred to multiple teams, none of which were able to provide an explanation for the blocked switch or advice on how to proceed.

Finally, at the end of May there was a promise that the case would be escalated to the complaints department and they would receive the information they needed within the next five days.

How was it resolved? 

Eventually, this person sought written communication from First Utility that they would be allowed to switch to the energy supplier they wanted. Additionally, he chose to pursue financial compensation to account for the five hours spent trying to resolve the issue which meant he was unable to complete paid freelance work.

Listen up First Utility!

Customers have a right to switch to an energy supplier of their choice. Attempts to block or complicate the switching process represents poor customer care will discourage customers from using your services in the future.

under the bridge studios

Under the Bridge Studio is home to Radio Free Brighton, the award winning community radio station, housing a recording studio, rehearsal rooms and a space for music lessons. BHESCo records a weekly radio show at their premises under the arches of the Bridge at Brighton Station.

Under the Bridge have been subject to a lengthy, frustrating and unexplainable switching process that we want to share with you telling NPower that their customer service is NOT good enough!

What was the switching problem?

Under the Bridge Studio wanted to switch their electricity supplier from NPower to Ecotricity in May 2013. They informed NPower of this in February 2013. In April 2013 NPower informed them that they could not switch supplier due to the notification being received later than the notice period specified in the contract so they were forced into another 12 month contract at a higher tariff.

In January 2014 Under the Bridge Studio informed NPower that they wanted to switch to Ecotricity, as their contract was due to end in May 2014, so this was in ample time. They also arranged a contract with their new supplier, Ecotricity.  In January 2014, NPower acknowledged the receipt of the termination letter and were told ‘you don’t need to do anything’.

However in March 2014 another letter was received informing Under the Bridge Studio that NPower had ‘prevented the transfer because although we’ve received a valid notice of termination from you, the present fixed term of your contract doesn’t end until 13 May 2014 and therefore your proposed new supplier has applied to take the supply too early’.

Under the Bridge were exasperated as they had informed NPower of the switch as advised and had received acknowledgement of receipt in January. They were also frustrated as they hadn’t been told when the correct time to inform NPower of switching should be. Additionally they were told that Ecotricity had not applied for the supply, which was incorrect. Finally on the third attempt of the year in June 2014, one month after the contract end date, the supply was moved to Ecotricity.

How was it resolved?

Ecotricity successfully gained the supply in June 2014, nearly 18 months after they originally wanted to switch to this 100% renewable energy supplier. The reason to why the objection was lifted was never clarified but we assume it was due to the notice of switching being received within the contractual period.  We are still unsure of why NPower held on for the additional month.

Lessons learnt

Make sure you know your contract length, when you are able to terminate the contract and the notice that needs to be given to do so. Seek clarification if you are unsure when this is. Keep a record of your correspondence both via email, over the phone or if you submit any queries via online contact forms.

Listen up NPower!

You need to listen to your customers and provide a real service.  If a customer wants to switch, you need to work with them to facilitate it, asking them why they are switching so you can improve your service for the future!


Copyright 2017 BHESCo