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Switching energy deals may prove difficult

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15/05/2008

People looking to switch to a cheaper energy provider could be trapped with their current supplier, according to price comparison site MoneyExpert.

Research from the website found that 726,000 people missed a gas or electricity bill in the last six months and as a result, could be trapped into staying on an expensive tariff if they don’t settle their bills.

Energy providers currently state that any money a customer has not paid to them becomes a debt after 31 days. Suppliers are then allowed to stop their customers changing to another company until such debt is repaid.

British Gas owner Centrica recently warned that it will have to increase prices to maintain profits, sparking speculation that an average household could face yearly fuel bills of more than £1,300.

Sean Gardner, founder of MoneyExpert, said: “With wholesale energy prices increasing, it’s inevitable that gas and electricity prices will rise again, so we anticipate large numbers of people to look to switch to the most competitive deals once that process begins. Generally speaking, if you have defaulted on a recent energy bill and still owe your supplier money, you will be tied into that contract until you pay up.”

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