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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


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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Craig, Scotland says:
11 May 2012

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

Tel says:
11 May 2012

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

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?

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

John Oxfordshire says:
11 May 2012

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

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??

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.

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.