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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

Comments
John says:
21 May 2012

I have subscribed to which for more than 20 years and have always supported,embraced and promoted the work that has been done but the current Big Switch campaign HAS and IS MISLEADING and as the leading consumer rights organisation in this country I believe you need to publicly admit that this is one that you have got wrong.
You gained great publicity by announcing this initiative and the impression was that you would be able to negotiate a great deal as a result of collective action and the sheer volumes involved. I have now received my ‘individual’ quote and it is more than I am currently paying. I have now also received a new fixed rate from my current supplier (OVO) and they are putting their daily rate to me from 10.84 to 11.59p which coincidentally is the rate I have been offered by the co-op. I am not happy about this but what can I do?
But the point is that collective buying power was supposed to achieve a lower rate which is not the case. Which? has not negotiated any better deal than an individual has been able to do all along.
Which? should have announced that it was disappointed that no energy company came forward with a volume deal instead of praising the Co-op and EDF Energy for their rates.
Surely Which? is big enough to admit this and start a campaign to expose the truth which is that it is not in the interests of the energy companies to negotiate volume deals for the public as it will lead to too much competition!

Alec says:
21 May 2012

I have now checked the actual cost with EDF Energy Blue +, which appears to be available to anybody, and the overall increase is almost £600 per year. I’ve also done a quick check on uSwitch and I can get a better rate, only £240 per year increase with first:utility. Can someone expalin why after all this effort we don’t seem to be getting any savings at all?

Oliver Philp says:
21 May 2012

Hi,

I signed up for Big Switch and have been sitting on an expensive standard rate for two months now awaiting the outcome so that I could avoid getting locked into another contract. I still haven’t received my estimate or any details about how to sign up. When should I expect this?

Jan P says:
21 May 2012

I still haven’t had an estimate or offer. Like others I’m trying to avoid being locked into another contract but I have no idea if this new “deal” will work for me.

Mr Frisbee says:
21 May 2012

I haven’t received my personalised email either and it is not in my junk folder (though that is probably where it belongs)!

Just a query about the email you sent out. Whats prizewize.nl got to do with this.

And on a side note, having something like that in an email “hidden” under a click here link is the sort of thing I’d expect to see in a phishing email 🙁

cyprusbay says:
21 May 2012

I have not as yet recieved an e-mail Please advise if I have been missed off

Dianna says:
21 May 2012

This is very irritating because I have still not received the repeatedly promised email from you. On the back of which promise I let go a special offer from the Co op which expired on 17 May and being a Co op member would have earned me points and too payment of my exit charges with Npower. The rates looked attractive – but how to compare when I don’t even know if the figures you put up on this site included VAT or not …Not the best way Which of encouraging people back into subscribing with you again.

Debra says:
22 May 2012

Like many others I haven’t received my email offer either. I guess there won’t be much take up of the offer if so many of us don’t even know what it will be.

Roger says:
22 May 2012

I too await my e mail. I have followed the advice and checked the spam folder and like Mr Frisbee, I find that it is not there either.

I have however received an e mail from Which today entitled, ‘Looking for a better mortgage deal?’. I think that’ll be a ‘No’ then.

pmf says:
22 May 2012

no wonder i havent received an email WHICH must be too embarassed to send it ,i was hoping to save about a 1/4 ,but looks like im gonna save 25p……..booooooooooooo

Nicki did post ” just give us a call on 01992 820 565″ for all those who hadn’t received an email.

My reason was not having provided details , oops.

After getting my email, I could switch to EDF and be £32 worse off a year, So I’m going to pass thanks.

Hello everyone, sorry you haven’t got your email – we’re sending the final ones out tonight. We prioritised those who could save the most, so if you haven’t had one yet it probably means you’re already on the best deal for you.

We can understand if you’re disappointed that you’re getting a negative savings estimate. However, telling you this is important to us as we’ve committed to being completely transparent from the beginning about the financial impact of you switching. We want you to know so that you don’t switch unnecessarily.

Thanks for your patience, Patrick.

Hi Patrick, Are Which in a position to say what the biggest and worst savings are, and can you confrim if the £123 quoted at the top of this blog is an average for all those who’ve saved, average of all 270k who signed up or just the savings from the industrsy standard average users point of view please.

Regards

Hi William, I’m not sure on your first question – but to give you a rough guide, some people have saved more than £200, but others will not have made a saving as they’re already on good deals. And as far as the £123, we’ve calculated that 200,000 people will be able to save, and £123 is the average amount for those people.

Thanks Patrick, You’ve kind of answered the 1st question.

skye girl says:
22 May 2012

woopdeedooooooooooooooooo I can’t wait!

Thanks Nikki and Patrick.

We have switched from previous which recommendation award winner Utility warehouse to Scottish power. It will save £260 A YEAR.
Only disappointment is that we have not got any chance for CO OP ENERGY as it has limit for Big switch.

David Sherwood says:
24 May 2012

Much ado about nothing really. Better to adopt the true Which tradition and admit bulk buying of energy in the UK doesn’t work rather than try to pretend there is a success when there manifestly has not been. You can do much better working independently seeking the best deal rather than working collectively. Be honest Which! rather than sink into the dishonestly of the markets you challenge and accuse of dishonesty!

David Sherwood says:
24 May 2012

……….. and I still haven’t had an e-mail with details of my potential savings! So I have no chance of being involved in the 30,000 “lucky” ones, only offered the EDF Blue available to anyone.

Gary says:
25 May 2012

I am still waiting to be contacted. I sent all my tariff info as required !

Hi Gary and David, best to give our customer services a call – they should be able to help you: 01992 820 565 Thanks.