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Calls for energy industry to move to one-day switching

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23/09/2013
The energy industry should follow the example set by the telecoms and banking sectors and speed-up the switching process to help consumers get a better deal, a new report suggests.

Energy giant First Utility has challenged the industry to move to one-day switching to dramatically cut the time it takes to move from one supplier to another.

Currently, it takes up to five weeks for households to switch between energy suppliers.

The report found that improving the switching process could save UK households £1.5bn per year as people would be able to take advantage of special deals more efficiently.

The speed and complexity of switching is the main factor putting consumers off, with 35% of those surveyed saying they were more likely to switch if the process was quicker, the report said.

Ian McCaig, chief executive of First Utility, said: “If we get 100,000 people to sign our petition, this will get debated in parliament and the industry will have to take note. A quick and easy energy switching process would deliver genuine cost-saving benefits by encouraging more people to benefit from better energy deals.

“The energy industry needs to follow the example set by the telecoms and banking sectors. It takes just four hours to switch mobile phone providers and you can change banks in a week. It is less complicated to change energy provider, yet we are stuck with antiquated processes that suit no-one other than the incumbents. We need to slash the time it takes to change energy suppliers, not just by shaving a few days off the process, but by making a real difference and introducing same day switching.”

A recent survey by Which? found that customers who switch suppliers can save an average of £217 a year.

First Utility said that the existing switching process is stuck in the past and limiting competition. It estimates that of the five week existing switching time, only several hours are spent actioning a switch, the rest of the time is spent waiting for “antiquated” industry processes to run their course.

Switching supply is relatively simple, no-one needs to visit the house, the gas or electricity doesn’t change, and there is no risk to supply; therefore it shouldn’t take so long to switch, the firm said.

First Utility’s ‘Fix the Switch’ campaign is calling on the industry, Ofgem and the Government to make a commitment to simplifying the process to make it faster, more accurate and more efficient.

It is encouraging consumers and MPs to sign an online petition in support of one-day switching to force the industry to make fundamental change.

To lend your support to the campaign visit: www.fightthepower.uk.com

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