Closed account balances – advice for consumers

Publication date
28th February 2014
Information types
Policy areas

We recently called on large energy suppliers to return more than £400m of credit left in former customers’ accounts.

If you believe you may have been affected, please follow our advice below.

Advice for consumers

If you switched to another supplier or changed tenancy get in touch with your former supplier. It is helpful if you have to hand a copy of your previous bill with information of your account details and your former address if applicable. Proof of identify may also be required.

If you think a deceased relative may have been an account holder, you will need to demonstrate your entitlement to any proceeds of their estate if you are pursuing their closed account.

If you are about to switch supplier, take a meter reading just before doing so and if you are moving, ensure you give a forwarding address to the supplier you are leaving.

Get in touch with your energy supplier

Domestic consumers - contacting your energy supplier

Business consumers - contacting your energy supplier

Helping consumers get a better deal 

We have introduced radical changes to the energy market to make it simpler, clearer and fairer for consumers

Background

We asked energy companies for information on balances relating to accounts that are now closed, for example because they have switched supplier or moved house. We also enquired into the companies’ policies and practices and found a lack of consistency.

Our analysis showed an unacceptably large amount of money is being held rather than being handed back to consumers – at least £202m from former domestic customers and £204m from former non-domestic customers.

Around 3.5m household accounts and around 300,000 business accounts are affected.

Restoring trust

With the recent rise in the number of consumers switching supplier, people need to be confident that they won’t lose out if they close an account with their current supplier.

We are calling for decisive action by suppliers to see this issue resolved and, wherever possible, to ensure that the balances they currently hold are returned to consumers. This builds on recent commitments by most major suppliers to automatically refund surpluses to current direct debit customers who are in credit.

If the remaining balances cannot be returned, we are urging suppliers to use it to benefit customers more generally and to make clear what to do when closing an account, the remaining sums held and the reasons for this.

We will be looking at whether suppliers have broken existing rules including those requiring companies to treat consumers fairly.