Have you been switched to a new energy supplier without your permission? That’s an “erroneous transfer”. Find out more about why this happens and what to do.
Have you been sent a “Sorry you’re leaving” email by your energy supplier – but you didn’t think you were leaving?
If you’ve been switched to a new energy supplier by mistake, this is what’s known as an erroneous transfer.
Think this has happened to you? Don’t worry! It’s easy to fix, and you might even be able to get some compensation. Keep reading to find out more about why erroneous transfers happen, and what to do about them.
What's an erroneous transfer?
An erroneous transfer is when you’re switched to a new energy supplier by mistake.
The good news is that problems switching energy supplier are fairly uncommon. According to Which?, just 5% of people find switching supplier difficult. Erroneous transfers are thankfully pretty rare.
Can my energy supplier change without my permission?
No. If you’re the energy account holder, then your energy supplier can’t be changed without your permission.
There is one exception to this: if you’re a tenant and you don’t pay the bills yourself.
- If you’re a tenant and you pay your own energy bills, then only you can switch suppliers.Your landlord can’t do it for you. (Though they might suggest a ‘preferred supplier’ in your contract.)
- If you’re a tenant and your landlord pays your energy bills, then they get to choose which energy supplier you’re with.So technically they can switch suppliers without your permission.
In general, if your name is on the bills, then you have to give your permission to switch.
Why erroneous transfers happen
There are a number of reasons why an energy supplier might accidentally switch you:
- They’ve mixed up your details with someone else’s – this can happen if you live in a flat or new build property
- There’s been a human error: for example, someone accidentally selected the wrong address from a drop-down menu
- There’s been a computer systems error
- In very rare cases, a property is signed up to commit fraud
- Your meter isn’t labelled properly in the national database
What happens during an erroneous transfer?
The first sign of an erroneous transfer might be an unexpected letter or email that says something along the lines of “Sorry you’re leaving”, from your current energy supplier. You might also receive a final bill when you didn’t ask for one.
What to do next
You’ll need to contact either your old supplier or the new one. It’s usually quickest to call them - you can find their details on any letters or bills they send.
Let them know that you didn’t agree to the switch, and ask them to cancel it if it’s still in progress. If the switch has already happened, ask them to reverse it.
Make a note of the date and time you call, and who you spoke to. You might need to refer to this later if you need to complain.
If you’d prefer to complain in writing, you canuse this example letter.
What happens next
Once you’ve contacted the supplier, they should write to you within:
- 5 working days to explain what they plan to do, and when
- 20 working days to confirm they’re reversing the switch or explain why it was correct
Your old supplier should switch you back within 21 days of the date they agree a mistake was made.
You'll automatically get £30 in compensation from the new supplier. They should pay this within 10 workings days of the date they agree a mistake was made. They'll either send you a cheque or pay directly into your bank account if they have your bank details.
When you’re switched back you’ll still get bills from your old supplier - you won’t have to pay the new supplier anything.
Other compensation if there are delays
All suppliers must follow the deadlines in the ‘erroneous transfer customer charter’. You'll be entitled to an extra £30 of compensation if any of the following apply:
- the supplier takes more than 20 working days to reply
- your old and new suppliers take more than 20 working days to agree whether your switch was correct - they both owe you £30 if this happens
- your old supplier takes more than 21 working days to re-register you once they know about the mistake
If you’re entitled to compensation the supplier should pay you within 10 working days, otherwise they’ll owe you an extra £30 in compensation. If they haven’t paid, you should make a complaint and ask for the money you think they owe.