Switching supplier complaints: We can help.

Are you experiencing problems switching your energy or communications provider? We process a high volume of cases every year. We understand the most common types of complaints about switching provider, and how to go about resolving them as quickly as possible.

Switching suppliers complaints in the energy sector.

If you have an unresolved switching suppliers issues complaint about your gas or electricity supplier, we may be able to help. We are approved by the energy regulator Ofgem to independently handle disputes between companies and their consumers.

The most common types of switching suppliers issues are about:

  1. Erroneous transfer.
  2. Transfer delay.
  3. Supply not transferred.

Erroneous transfer i.e. wrongly transferred supply.

If a supplier becomes aware, prior to the start of the supply, that it does not have a valid contract in place, then it should take all reasonable steps to prevent the transfer going ahead. If a supply has already been transferred in error, then the supplier should act in accordance with the Erroneous Transfer Customer Charter. The contacted supplier should explain to the consumer the following information:

  1. What action will be taken.
  2. When they can expect to be transferred back to their original supplier.
  3. That they will only pay once for the energy used.
  4. How they will be kept informed of progress.

It is important to note that returning a supply under the erroneous transfer process requires action by both the old and new suppliers.

Normal transfer issues (domestic).

What we can look at:

  1. Complaints about supplier objecting to a transfer.
  2. Delays in the completion of a transfer.
  3. Disputed opening and/or closing meter readings.

The supply licence conditions require a supplier to take all reasonable steps to transfer a supply within 21 days after the 14 day cooling off period has ended, unless the customer requests that the transfer be completed at a later date.

A losing supplier may object to a transfer in the following circumstances:

  1. The customer informs the losing supplier that they did not enter into a contract with the proposed new supplier.
  2. The supply point (i.e. MPAN) is related and the gaining supplier has not applied to take over all of the related supplies.
  3. There are outstanding charges on the account (however certain exceptions apply).

If a supplier objects to a transfer request it should inform the customer that it has raised an objection, provide the reasons for the objection, and set out how the customer may dispute the objection. It should also inform the customer how information may be obtained about energy efficiency advice, debt management, and alternative tariffs offered by the supplier.

A supplier should not object to a transfer request if the supplier is aware that the outstanding charges are solely made up of disputed charges or charges that relate to supplier error. If the outstanding charges contain some disputed charges and some valid non-disputed charges, then the supplier can object on the basis that there are non-disputed outstanding charges.

When a customer transfers from one supplier to another, the two suppliers should agree a transfer reading. During this process the gaining supplier may request a meter reading from the customer. It is the gaining supplier’s responsibility to facilitate the transfer and agree the transfer readings with the losing supplier. Agreeing a transfer reading ensures that both suppliers do not bill the customer for the same energy usage.

Switching suppliers complaints in the communications sector.

Have an unresolved switching suppliers issues complaint about your mobile phone, broadband or tv provider? We may be able to help. We are approved by Ofcom to independently handle disputes between consumers and communications providers who are signed up to our scheme.

The most common types of switching suppliers issues are about:

  1. Contract cancellation.
  2. Early termination fee.
  3. Price increase.

Do you have a cancellation complaint?

If you cancel your account or move provider within a fixed term contract, you usually have to pay an early termination fee. If you are unsure of your contract term with your current provider, we always recommend you check before arranging to cancel.

This can help avoid any unwelcome surprises. It is important to note that your service will continue after the fixed term has ended on a rolling contract. Your services do not cease automatically at the end of a fixed term contract. If you wish to cancel a service rather than move to a different provider, then you usually have to give 30 days’ notice.

Many providers will accept cancellation over the telephone, but some may require written notice. Your provider should set out its cancellation process in its terms and conditions, a copy of which should be available on its website. If you have more than one service with a communication provider (sometimes referred to as a bundled service), then you may need to follow different processes to arrange the transfer of each service.

Porting Authorisation Codes (PACs).

If you wish to transfer your telephone number to a new mobile provider, then you need to contact your current provider and request a porting authorisation code (PAC). This numerical code provides authority for your number to transfer. You request a PAC from your current mobile provider. The provider must give you the PAC immediately over the telephone or within two hours by text message. Most major mobile phone providers will issue a PAC free of charge but the company can charge a fee.

Once received, you should give the PAC to your new provider, who will arrange the number transfer. This should take one business day. The transfer of the number should in turn cease your service with the losing provider. A PAC is only valid for 30 days. If you do not use it within this time, you will need to request a new PAC. If you do not use the PAC, then the service with your old provider will continue. It is important to note that requesting a PAC is not a request to cancel a contract. It is only when the PAC is used that the cancellation request is made. If you request to cancel the contract but do not request a PAC, you will not be able to port the number.

A provider can only refuse to issue a PAC if:

  1. The number does not belong to the customer of the losing mobile provider.
  2. The account for that number has been terminated.
  3. A PAC has been issued and is still valid.
  4. The customer has not adequately proved that he or she is the legitimate account holder.

Importantly, a communications provider cannot withhold a PAC due to an outstanding balance.

Fixed term contracts – price increases.

A fixed term contract is an agreement between you and a communications provider that lasts for a set amount of time. For consumer contracts, this is usually 12, 18 or 24 months. Contracts for small businesses may be longer. In a fixed term contract, you are obliged to remain with your provider for the duration of the fixed term.

If you cancel your account or move provider within a fixed term contract, you usually have to pay an early termination fee. Fixed term contracts typically have a set price or core subscription cost. For example, you might agree to pay £30 per month for 12 months. In return, you usually receive a set voice and data allowance, which refreshes each month.

Communications providers can change the price of a contract mid-term. However, Ofcom, the regulator of the UK’s communications industry, has set rules that providers must follow in order to do so. Depending on whether the increase is agreed at the start of the contract, or is discretionary, a customer may have the ability to cancel their contract without paying an early termination fee if the change is not acceptable to them.