If you are a business consumer, switching energy supplier or setting up a new account as soon as you move into new premises can make a big impact on cutting your bills.
Whatever your business, the following hints and tips will help you when you’re comparing deals and switching to a new supplier.
Talk to suppliers
Ask your own supplier if it has any better offers. This will give you something to use as a benchmark when looking at other deals. Note that if you are consuming energy on a default – or deemed – tariff, your supplier has an obligation to take all reasonable steps to tell you about other available contracts and how you can get information on these.
Check your meter
Taking regular meter readings will help build up a picture of your consumption over time. You may need to know your consumption so that other suppliers can provide a quote for you.
Your meter has unique registration numbers: the MPAN (meter point administration number for electricity meters) and MPRN (meter point reference number for gas meters). Give these to your new supplier. You can find them on your meter, as well as on your bill.
Know your contract
Make sure you know the terms of your current contract.
For example, how long before your existing contract ends can you tell your supplier that you want to switch? Many contracts will only allow you to do this at certain times.
When you are talking to a competing supplier ask them to explain the terms and conditions of their deal so you can make sure you fully understand them before you sign up.
Most business deals do not offer a cooling off period (this is the option of cancelling a contract within a certain amount of days after it is agreed). This includes when you have agreed to the contract over the telephone. So be sure that you are fully happy with all the terms and conditions before you agree to it.
Further information on energy contracts for business consumers is available in our factsheet.
Can suppliers object to switching?
Your current supplier can object to you switching, but only under specific circumstances, which will be set out in your contract.
Some typical reasons include:
- if you are in debt with your supplier
- if you are still bound by your contract, because you are on a fixed term contract where the term has not run out.
But your supplier cannot object if:
- you are not signed up to any contract because you are on a deemed contract
- your contract has expired and you are not bound by its terms.
If your current supplier does object to your switch, they are under licence obligations to tell you this as soon as possible. They must also tell you:
- the reason why they have objected
- how you can resolve this if you think you have a case.
In November 2011, we published an open letter reminding suppliers of their licence obligations. There are some examples of good practice set out in our Retail Market Review: Non-domestic Proposals consultation, in Appendix 2, page 49.
What to check when using a Third Party Intermediary (TPI)
Some businesses choose to use Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs) to help them compare their current deals with those of other suppliers.
If you do decide to use a TPI, ask them:
- which suppliers they represent (so you know whether they will compare the whole market for you)
- how their services are paid for (for example, will its commission be included in the prices you are quoted or will they charge a one-off fee?).
If you have any concerns about the actions of a TPI you can talk to your local trading standards department which, along with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), has enforcement powers which may apply to some forms of misleading information and communications.
Read our factsheet - Third Party Intermediaries: what your business needs to know