After a series of mis-selling cases that ended in big fines for big six energy suppliers, the practice of cold calling with energy deals has dwindled — but if you get a stranger at your door offering a great energy tariff, here's how to ensure you don't get swindled.
Please note that uSwitch doesn't currently provide a door-to-door switching service, and anyone claiming to be a representative of uSwitch should be reported to Citizens Advice at 03454 04 05 06.
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Comparing energy deals and switching supplier is still the best way to make sure you're not overpaying for your gas and electricity. And you can do this through reputable, Ofgem-accredited price comparison websites like uSwitch.
However, a representative from an energy supplier or comparison site might come to your door to try to walk you through an energy switch in person. Use these tips to make sure you're getting the best deal from them.
Doorstep energy sales - tips and advice
Follow these tips to protect yourself from being mis-sold:
- Always ask for ID. This applies to anyone coming to your door, including meter readers. Ensure they have proper identification to prove they are representing the supplier or site they say they are - and be aware some cold callers may use similar-sounding names to more reputable companies.
- Understand what they can actually offer. Most doorstep salespeople work for one supplier, which means they can only offer you the cheapest tariff from that supplier. There may be much cheaper deals from other energy suppliers.
- To be able to offer the appropriate deal for your household, the rep should use information from your bill. There is no "one size fits all" deal when it comes to energy, and it's key to ensure any new energy deal takes into account your region and consumption.
- You should not be pressured into agreeing a contract. If you're not comfortable making a decision, take the info they have provided and talk it over with a trusted friend or family member before agreeing to a switch.
- You have the right to cancel within 14 days. All suppliers are obligated to offer a "cooling off period" of two weeks so that you can change your mind if you feel you were mis-sold a deal.
uSwitch's 10 point checklist for getting the best energy deal
- Make sure you know what energy company the salesperson represents.
- Check what type of plan they are offering - can they tell you about their company's online plans?
- Online plans are often the cheapest.
- Before telling you how much money you can save, the seller should have asked you:
- Which supplier and what plan you are currently on.
- How you pay for your energy - e.g. prepayment meter, cash, cheque or direct debit.
- Where you live.
- What your energy consumption is, how much you spend each month or what type/size property you live in.
- Have they given you a full quote telling you what your new annual bill would be so that you can compare?
- What is the value of any additional incentives, like shopping vouchers or reward points, and how and when do you qualify for them?
- Have these been factored into the annual bill size? (They shouldn't be.)
- If you've opted for dual fuel (getting both gas and electricity from the same supplier) and to pay by direct debit, have they factored in the discounts you should get?
- Does the plan have a standing charge?
- Are there any exit penalties?
- Make a note of the salesperson's name and ID number - you can contact them if you decide to go ahead after checking that theirs really is the cheapest deal, and you'll also have a point of reference in case there are any problems.