/ Home & Energy

The Big Switch – the results are in!

After months of excitement, we can finally announce it – The Big Switch auction has finished! And the winner is Co-operative Energy! It’s delivered savings of around £123 per year. Great news, so what happens now?

There was a certain part of the office that I avoided on Wednesday – The Big Switch hub – the room where my colleagues who have been working tirelessly over the last few months gathered to negotiate with energy companies.

Tense, excited and armed with spreadsheets and calculations, they had just one key question – how low can you go?

The aim was to secure a market-leading energy deal – something that was cheaper than anything else on offer. I’m delighted to say that they succeeded, and Co-operative Energy bid a tariff that will cost the average household either £1,048 per year (if they pay by direct debit) or £1,144 per year (if they pay by cash or cheque).

As they’re a small company they can only take 30,000 customers, so all the extra people (and we think there’s around 200,000 who fully registered) will be offered the second-place deal, with EDF Energy. It’s slightly more expensive, at £6 more per year for the average household, but still very good value.

Ring in the changes

So what happens next? Well, we could sit around eating cake in celebration, or we could see if there are other areas where Which? can help. Our campaigns team is always on the look out for things we can to make things a bit easier for consumers. If you want to stay up to date with what we’re doing, join our Affordable Energy Campaign. You never know when the next ‘Big Switch moment’ might be around the corner!

Personally, I’m really interested to see what affect this will have on energy bills. Will other companies be feeling the pressure to lower their current prices? Will other organisations (such as ThePeoplesPower) get more great deals on their own collective switching initiatives? I hope the answer to both of these questions is ‘yes.’

But more than that I hope that this leads to some genuine, long term change. Although it’s a great result that we’ve managed to secure these savings for thousands of people, I think The Big Switch represents a more significant ‘cry for help’.

The power of numbers

When we launched I expected fifty, perhaps sixty thousand people to sign up. I was overwhelmed when we passed the hundred thousand mark and even more so when the final total was revealed – more than 270,000 people.

The sheer numbers achieved with this campaign are significant, and not just because these people are all switching but because they’re all standing together and saying ‘we’re not happy’. Not happy with soaring bills, not happy with complicated tariffs, not happy with a market that makes it really hard to find the best deal.

If I were an energy company (other than EDF or Co-operative, of course) I’d be shaking in my boots today. They might be able to pacify regulators or make small changes to appease the government, but when a large number of people take their custom away it shows there’s a real problem.

So what’s next? Do you think we’ll see more collective switching initiatives? Do you think energy companies will make longer term change? I certainly hope so.

[UPDATE 11 MAY 2PM] – Due to popular demand we’re publishing the details of the tariffs for ease of reference. Please note these are averages – your tailored savings estimate will provide the most relevant information to you based on your current energy tariff, usage and location. If you provided your energy details, you’ll receive an email from us in the upcoming days.

You’ll have until 28 May to decide whether to make the switch.

Co-op Variable Pioneer      Tariff Co-op Fixed Pioneer    Tariff EDF Blue+ Price Promise
Avg. Elec Std Chrg – 17.26p     Avg. Elec Std Chrg – 17.26p       Avg. Elec Std Chrg -14.70p
Avg. Elec Unit Rate – 11.99p    Avg. Elec Unit Rate – 10.84p       Avg. Elec Unit Rate – 11.99p
Avg. Gas Std Chrg – 17.26p     Avg. Gas Std Chrg – 17.26p       Avg. Gas Std Chrg – 23.10p
Avg. Gas Unit Rate – 3.77p      Avg. Gas Unit Rate – 3.42p         Avg. Gas Unit Rate – 3.62p

Comments
Profile photo of ChrisGloucester
Member

How about publishing the tariff details of these “market-leading energy deals” negotiated by “Which”? We will all then see if the result of the big switch has really beaten anything already on offer. I find savings figures based on average household consumption a little too general.

I honestly did not think very much would be achieved with this initiative but If the “big switch” really has succeeded and tariff detail clearly shows a market leading deal I’ll be one of the first to offer my congradulations.

Member
Norm says:
11 May 2012

How can you judge whether this is a good deal or not if there’s no figures given. Do you just expect us to accept it because its Which? Sorry but I’ll stick with my current supplier who gives me a very good deal until I see the figures on offer.

Member
Charlie says:
11 May 2012

Hmmm, I am undecided whether this has really worked or not. It seems on the face of it that all that has happened is that suppliers are making their lowest tarriff available more transparent. I was hoping to see tarrifs being undercut but I suppose it was too much too ask of our energy suppliers that they perhaps reduce their profits. In these tough financial times I suppose social responsibility is stiil not their priority! Well done to the team for bringing this into focus though. I too would like to see all the tarriffs that were on offer and would certainly be more interested in switching to a greener energy supplier.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Now the auction is over, commission payments received by which? per switch can be revealed.

Member
John Oxfordshire says:
11 May 2012

Brilliant news but I agree with others, where is the detail? Please publish the unit price of the gas and electricity deal. I really don’t understand why you have not done this immediately and I think you are in danger of missing the point of the exercise! I was one of the first to sign up to this initiative so assume I am one of the 30,000 chosen people for the Co-op deal on my electricity but I have not received any notification. Please advise soonest.

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

Hi John. Details to follow. You’ll receive a personalised email with your potential savings. These emails are being sent in the next few days. The first 30,000 to accept the switch will go to Co-operative, and the rest will be offered the chance to switch to EDF Energy.

Profile photo of lesley
Member

I am already with EDF on blue plus price promise, which I had to do a bit of investigating, cajoling, and negotiating myself to get offered (I was already with EDF after a previous switch), so I won’t apply to switch to the Co-op for the sake of £6 per year, I’ll leave that spot for someone on a higher tariff now. Like Charlie I am a bit disappointed that EDF haven’t produced a new lower tariff in the face of this campaign, in fact this has just been an excellent free promotion for them to get 170,000 new customers without the cost of marketing, and without changing their pricing structure. Well done to the Co-op though and on the face of it well done to 38 degrees for taking on the big companies, who at least will lose a few tens of thousands of customers each which might make them think again about their ridiculous profits.

Member
Gundula says:
11 May 2012

I am already with Ecotricity which is a great small energy company dedicated to renewable energy, streets ahead of any other company including Good Energy. Their prices match the main companies, so it doesn’t cost more. So, I won’t be switching.

But I want to say well done to Which? and 38 Degrees for organising this. Also, importantly, I understand that Which? is charging the winning companies £40 per person who switches. I think that is fine!! In fact, good on you to cover your costs and hopefully some of the costs of the other good work that you do. So much better the money goes to Which? than to company shareholders. So, I hope there won’t be too much criticism of Which? for having very sensibly asked such an amount.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Each £40 per switch, not just with this scheme but comparison websites etc.
I do not understand why 38 degrees takes £2 in commission per switch, but which? takes £40?
It’s one thing to “cover costs” – A Guardian article estimates would raise around £1.2 Million for which? in commission – but to also fund other projects?
Increasing the energy bills of customers of co-op and edf, to pay commission surely defeats the object of saving people money on energy bills in the first place?

I support any genuine attempts to help customers, but cannot ignore the fact, that which? campaign for clearer bills – recommend switching (not just on the big switch but in general) – whilst the commission payments are being loaded back on to customer’s bills are one of the main reasons why energy company bills are deliberately confusing.

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

Just to confirm, we’ll email all those who completed their registration for The Big Switch and give you a personalised estimate letting you know how much you could save with the new deal. You’ll then have until 28 May to decide whether to make the switch.

Member
John Symons says:
11 May 2012

Being told how much I will save is not good enough. That approach risks you coming across as yet another confusion marketer. I doubt that I was one of the first 30,000 applicants so I need either a forecast of what EdF will charge me or full tarif details, otherwise I will not switch from Scottish Hydro Electric. When I looked at the pull down menus on your personal and consumption details form, the tariff names printed on both my gas and electricity bills did not appear, so I had to guess and opt for “Standard Energy”. I therefore have no confidence that any savings you claim will be realistic. Also as I was surprised apparently not to be on a dual fuel or online tariff I may be able to get a better deal with Scottish Hydro Electric than with EdF. I am also not happy with what I recollect to be EdF’s (and e.on’s) reputation for high pressure doorstep selling. How ethical are they?

Member
kev says:
11 May 2012

like so many others, i think it’s time energy prices were drastically reduced and signed for the ‘switch’ to see what savings could be offered. one thing i dont know is whether the discount i get from my present supplier of £100 per year (not dual fuel, but get both energies from same supplier) is ever included in any new pricings. ie, atm i see CO-OP could save people £123. in my case, i assume that to be just £23 per annum. it’s the same when using ‘price comparison’ sites, so i dont think savings are strictly correct.

Profile photo of b martin
Member

Please publish the complete list of all prices for each of the 14 regions in the uk on this page of coversations. Remarks regarding annual savings for a ‘typical’ consumer are of little use.

Member
Budgie says:
11 May 2012

Registered and ready to switch today but how can I do that if I do not know the prices or the terms? Please contact me now with details and a copy of your spreadsheet so that I can understand the benefits. I have to assume that there will be no lock in terms as not needed if Co-operative are truely comepetitive and in it for the long haul.

P.S. Of course the whole energy market is rigged and manipulated by speculators in London and Moscow. There is ABSOLUTELY no way WE the British people can allow this situation to contine. We have an impotent regulator and an equally impotent Government.

Member
Craig, Scotland says:
11 May 2012

Again you will recieve all the information on the tarriffs in the next couple of days.

Member
Tel says:
11 May 2012

Thanks Charlotte for your note. Any idea when the emails will be sent out please ?

Profile photo of GeoffM
Member

I agree with most comments-details please? However now seeing your addendum re personal emails apropos an itemised personal estimate. I await with eager anticipation. However my current supplier as for sometime being a Which recommended provider both on customer service and keen pricing-so I look forward to my email. If the Which estimate beats my current provider then it will be hurray for Which as far as I am concerned. One final point the deadline to accept 28 May- you are going to have to be very swift with those emails Which?

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

Swift indeed Geoff – they’re working on them at present and due to be sent in the next few days =)

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

Thanks Tel. The emails will be sent from next week with the tailored savings plans. We wanted to do the hard work for you so you don’t have to do too many calculations yourself. We’ll publish the tariff details as soon as we can.

Member
James says:
11 May 2012

I too am disappointed that the tariff has not been made public. Headlines screaming SAVE £123 by switching to us are too much like the adverts we see every day on the media.

Profile photo of lesley
Member

I am posting only so I get the message to STOP receiving emails when people post!

Profile photo of lesley
Member

Charlotte how do I turn OFF ‘notify me when people post’ ? I am getting a stream of emails I don’t want

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Hello Lesley, I’ve turned the email subscriptions off for you now, which you opt-in to with the tick box below. In every email there’s also a link to your subscription manager. It appears to be having a little problem at the moment, so we’re working on the fix. In the meantime, I’ve turned it off for you! Thanks

Member
John Oxfordshire says:
11 May 2012

Charlotte
I look forward to receiving my individual quotation but I agree with others that I hope you are going to publish the per unit prices. Quite honestly I don’t understand why you haven’t done this already as I am quite capable of working out for myself if the Co-Op rate for electricity is less my current unit price. Like others I am also getting a stream of everyone’s emails which I didn’t ask for and can’t see how to turn off. John

Member
Ally says:
11 May 2012

Like several other posters I do not think this was a great success although I had high hopes it would be.

Effectively a lot of work by Which?/38 Degrees that will be of little benefit (in the short term) to customers – I was just delaying switching to EDF’s Blue+ Tariff till I had heard the results. I assume here that the EDF Tariff was available to all anyway?

Also even though I am currently with EDF and it would be no supplier change for me, many people might be put off by the poor rating of EDF in it’s customer service (though I think it is getting slowly better).

It might have been different if more had signed up to the switch (1/4 million is a substantial number but not in terms of the overall market) and as the results were not great I do not think many more (if any) could be persuaded to try this again.

Thanks for the effort and let’s think of a new approach to get a better offer. Any ideas??

Member
Lawrence Moss says:
11 May 2012

All this is meaningless unless we see the prices so that we can directly what is in it for us. Why has Which not said what the deal is? Changing supplier without seeing the deal is just plain daft.

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

Thanks Lawrence. We wouldn’t want anyone to change their deal if it wasn’t the best option for them. The personalised estimate will let you know how much you could save with the new deal and give you the chance to decide whether to make the switch or not.

Member
DevonDeb says:
11 May 2012

I agree with most of the others comments about the lack of details and the screaming headlines which smack of spin, not substance.
I can’t imagine anyone choosing EDF, my goodness they were the bane of my life, I had no end of problems with them and eventually after two long, stressful years had to get Radio Devon to help me leave them for good and sort the billing problems out. I shudder at their very name…. Awful company.
It is good to empower people to switch to better tariffs and providers and that is exactly what I did.. I switched to Utility Warehouse Discount Club and have made incredible savings.
I’m actively looking at a new company launching in the UK soon called Momentis and will switch to them if I can save even more.
Where most companies make their massive profits is with the general apathy of most consumers who can’t be bothered to change, and can’t be bothered to research.
We each need to accept more responsibility for our own bills and do the research and then vote with our feet, so to speak.

Profile photo of frugal ways
Member

Would it not be more benficial to customers all round if paying commission per switch and sign up/exit fees were taken out of the whole process?
– Customer can move to and from companies without costs being loaded back on to bills
– Confusing billing would rendered useless, as only actual energy cost and transportation costs would be chargeable to the customer
– Energy companies would be forced to gain customer share by energy price alone (instead of indirect methods that Ofgem let them get away with now)
– This would increase competition and lower prices faster
– This would force energy companies to be more responsive to customers with their prices

The onus should be on energy companies to compete with each other for customers, not on the customer to be forced into constant research just to try to save a minimal amount per year on their bills.

I’d also like to see advertised “energy savings” quoted only by metered units saved, and not as is the case now, with false claims of “up to xx amount per year” and “could save” marketing.

Or would this be too obvious?

Member
Calum says:
11 May 2012

I am also hoping that there will be transparency of sourcing of power alongside the rates. I understand that there are (somewhat complex) issues of whether a ‘green tariff’ for example is actually causing new renewable energy to be produced, or simply channelling existing production; whether the company is retiring more than the statutory requirement of ROCs etc.

It would be very helpful if Which guidance could focus on clarity on these issues as much as pricing clarity. Also – should the debate be quite so purely price driven? At least high pricing is discouraging consumer wastefulness, and is in part driven by required investment in new technologies. Consumer responsibility is at least as important as energy company behaviour.

Member
Gundula says:
11 May 2012

Hi, on the green energy tariff issue. From from what I know, most green tarrifs including Good Energy are mainly just channelling existing renewable production as you say. The main companies are not even meeting the legal requirement for a minimum investment in renewable energy. Even Good Energy barely does the minimum (based on their average investment in new renewable energy over the last few years). The only company that really invests massively is Ecotricity – over half of your bill goes into building new green energy vs. only a few % for Good Energy which is the next best. 54% of the energy they supply is from renewable resources (33% from their own new wind turbines + 21% other green sources). Your CO2 emissions from electricity will be 40% less when you switch to them. I am with them and they also have the best customer service – no automated answer machines, always a friendly human on the end. Forget all the big companies I say!

Member
Sarah says:
11 May 2012

Just 30,000 customers are going to have access to the co-operative deal. Isn’t this a bit select? Where’s the ‘which’ fairness in that? Some of the comments posted in email have been helpful though. Off to check some of the providers that other users are recommending above….

Member
Steve Yelland says:
11 May 2012

Agree – average savings are useless. We need to know standing charge, price per kwh and any volume break changes in the price. If these numbers are down to individual usage, the whole point has been missed. This surely was a total volume deal – there should be one, utterly unbeatable, pair of kwh prices.

Member
kev says:
11 May 2012

is there a way of turning off notifications? getting rather too many now

Profile photo of Patrick Steen
Member

Turned it off for you Kev 🙂 Thanks. You can find out how to do it yourself by checking our FAQ https://conversation.which.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/ under ‘subscriptions’. Thanks

Profile photo of william
Member

So exactly how many of the 270k people don;t have internet access ?

And as to avg usage I’m already around 50% of the avg household, I too would like to see actually numbers

Profile photo of helena
Member

I think the Big Switch initiative has been a great success. Congratulations to Co-op for providing the winning tariff and while I eagerly anticipate my own personal quote, I also look forward to having the overall tariff details made available.

We have all been told that we will get the tariff details so maybe a little more patience is due to Which.

Member
Pangit says:
11 May 2012

If we switch supplier do we have to switch our FITS as well or can we just leave the FITS with the current supplier. I just asking as I had such a difficult problem setting up the FITS with Npower in the first place – It took months to do numerous phone calls and supply of different documentation etc. I did not get paid for the first 3 months electricity generated due to all the problems!

Profile photo of Nikki Whiteman
Member

Hi Pangit – I don’t know but I probably know someone who does! Will ask one of our resident FIT experts and let you know.

Profile photo of Sylvia Baron
Member

Hello Pangit

My understanding is that your energy providers does not automatically have to be the same as the one who pays your FIT. Give Npower a call and double check, but it should be fine to switch.

Member
eoin says:
11 May 2012

Any effort to stop customers being ripped of f is to be aplauded.
I had put great hopes in the 38 degrees / Which campaign.
To acertain if i would save money
i just checked with edf and compared the Blue +Price Promise to my current tarrif its 15 % MORE expensive, there are no details to be given at the moment from the co-op but if edf are a close second i dont hold out any hopes ill be saving money at all.

Think you might have blown your own trumpet a bit early and for gods sake dont use terms like
a market-leading energy deal
something that was cheaper than anything else on offer
we succeded- because im guessing you havent.

– it just makes you seem as dishonest as the energy companies themselves.

Member
Teddy says:
11 May 2012

As a severley disabled person on EDF Social Tarriff, I very much doubt whether I would benefit from the Coop tarrif that has been negotiated. However, I do believe that it has done a power of good in having stirred the Power Suppliers ( publicly or/and privately). What I find disappointing is the number of negative comments on here re: a grand effort by Which? to negotiate a good deal without charge .

Profile photo of Charlotte Fitzgerald
Member

Due to popular demand we’ve published the details of the tariffs in the Conversation piece above. Please note these are averages – your tailored savings estimate will provide the most relevant information to you based on your current energy tariff, usage and location. If you provided your energy details, you’ll receive an email from us in the upcoming days.

Profile photo of william
Member

Thanks for posting some figures, but I don’t see any benefit in having avg figures. So I guess I’ll have to wait for the “estimate”.

FYI just using your avg figures the best for me would be the coop fixed but even that would be £38 more than I’m currently paying. With the EDF tariff coming in at £122 more than I’m paying which is odd as I’m an EDF customer.

Member
Boblechien says:
11 May 2012

I think alot of you are being too short term.

By switching, the exercise will have worked for The Co-op and EDF.

The time to judge will be when WHICH repeats this exercise next year and are able to point to the numbers who switched this year.

Member
Marc says:
11 May 2012

Currently with EDF energy who I’ve always found to offer the best tariff. No I don’t work for them.

I too was sceptical when this exercised was launched. USwitch et. al. often quote savings of hundreds of pounds in order to tempt people to switch. In reality the savings, as seen here, are minimal and generally not worth the effort. Additionally the various switching websites don’t always have the exact tariff listed. I will always try and obtain the actual tariff from the supplier, and then compare the annual cost based on actual usage in a spreadsheet.

As for the co-op, as they have decided to jump on the anti-Israel BDS bandwagon, I shall apply a purchasing boycott to all their products and services.

Member
eoin says:
11 May 2012

read this article in the guardian –

Which? faces criticism over cheap energy deal

“Which? has admitted it will charge the winning energy companies £40 for each customer that switches to the deals on offer – a figure based on the need to cover financial risk and campaign costs. If 30,000 customers switch to the Co-op, Which? will make £1.2m.”

Ever feel you’ve been had ? I do.
Peole powered swindle thanks for your help which / 38 degrees

Member
Ally says:
11 May 2012

Being an average user the posting of the av charges is worthwhile for me. However if you are a light or heavy user you really need to see the break points!

For those who could not or would not tell you their usage how are you going to email them with their costs for a year and their savings? Will you just be providing the data for charges etc. and if so why can you not just post a link to them now?

…and the terms and conditions too.

Member
Budgie says:
11 May 2012

Why all the mystery “After months of excitement…”?

Openess and transparency MUST come first. This deal was struck in OUR name on OUR behalf. You have OUR data for the express purpose of negotiating a deal. Not once was commission mentioned. Costs yeas but don’t make it more complicateed than needed just to line a few pockets, please.

How about you just post up the details in full.

OK – follow up with personalised emails etc but in the meantime let us work out the benefits?

Member
Phil says:
11 May 2012

If you pay by cash or cheque by the time you’ve paid the £40 “admin fee” or whatever Which? want to call it you’ll be £13 out of pocket for the first year and for how many years have the Co-Op promised to keep this tariff?

I can’t help but think that if anybody else was doing this Which? would be calling it the scam of the century.

Member
Phil says:
11 May 2012

Ignore that. Serves me right for skim reading…

Profile photo of Josh Green
Member

Hello everyone, just on the comments about commission. Which? is a charity but we hope to cover our costs. We take the responsibility of getting people a good deal extremely seriously. That is why we have made a significant investment in IT infrastructure and customer support to ensure that The Big Switch process is as fair and clear as possible for potential switchers.

Our costs to date are more than £570,000 but this will rise significantly depending on the number of switchers. The fee that suppliers pay will also vary depending on which supplier switchers are currently with and whether they’re switching dual fuel or electricity-only. So it’s not quite as simple as £40 x number of switches.

We’ve been clear from the start that any surplus from The Big Switch will be put back into our Affordable Energy Campaign which aims to get a fairer, better energy deal for ALL consumers. Thanks, Josh.

Member
Phil says:
11 May 2012

All the same if this is to be an annual exercise as I’ve seen suggested it still looks as though the main motivation is for it to be a regular revenue generator for Which? If so the IT investment can be written off over a number of years.

I’d have thought Which? would’ve learnt it’s lesson after the Carbusters fiasco.

Member
IT Manager says:
11 May 2012

£570,000 – of IT Infrastructure – Wow !!! I

I’d very much like to see how this is broken down.

It should be something like:-

1 x Excel – 1 x simple formula – volume of gas, for X customers, by area. Give us your best bids.

I’m not sure, my company would win any commercial bids, if our costs for work were based on these costings.

Member
Budgie says:
12 May 2012

How much? Did you really mean £570,000!!! or £50,000?

“…and this will rise significantly depending on he number of switchers”!!!

I see what you mean about being a charity – and it is being to feel as if someone is being chugged

Member
Stefan Kowal says:
11 May 2012

Good deals are great and I’m sure that we all enjoy a bargain. I moved to EDF Energy last year. I had a nightmare trying to get my monthly debit amount reconciled to my meter readings. EDF appear to have had tremendous problems in the accurate billing department. If you have a lot a spare time on your hands you might not mind trying to sort out the inaccuracies. Otherwise, I suggest that the savings may not be worth the effort. Has Which secured any confidence from the intended suppliers that they will be able to cope with the transfers? My experience would advise caution.

Member
John Symons says:
11 May 2012

Thanks for the update. In principle I can now calculate my savings regardless of any incorrect selection of my current tariffs when I could not find them listed in the pull-down menus on the personal/usage details form.

But how can they be averages? Surely the standing charge is a fixed amount per day and the unit rate is a fixed amount per unit.

If they are geographical averages, I am afraid that I now need tariffs specific to Aberdeen if I am to be sure of what my savings will be.

Profile photo of william
Member

I agree, having an average standing charge doesnt seem to make sense, but I understand why you get averages for units used. So if like me you’re a very low user you’ll be paying more than average, but for a very high user less than the average. e.g. 11p for the 1st 100 units, 9p per unit after that and if the average user uses 200 units then the average price will be 10p per unit.

What I do find odd is how the same company can charge differents amounts for the standing charge as its still the same gas or electircty you are getting down the same cables/pipes. I’m currently with EDF and my current standing charges aren’t what they’ve shown. I’m currently paying less for gas and more for leccy

Profile photo of william
Member

I’ve finally managed to find a price tariff for EDFs Blue product and they do have pricings for different geographical regions. #BIZARRE