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Watch out – ‘fuel switch sharks’ are on the prowl

Keyboard with 'save energy' key

Why are so many of us switching energy suppliers by falling for doorstep sellers’ patter when we could be using a comparison site? Are we lazy, uninformed, or simply unaware of just how useful they are?

Don’t be duped by fuel switch sharks’ the Mail cautions, warning that ‘devious energy salesmen are preying on vulnerable customers’.

It certainly paints quite a scary picture, and colours this with cautionary case studies of people who have lived to regret their energy switch.

But is the situation really that dire? Well, apparently so. I was amazed to read that only half of people who switch energy supplier use a comparison site. Half!

I guess this means most of the others are relying on salespeople, which is a sorry state of affairs. The easiest way (by far) to find the best tariff for your home is to get your bills out and do an accurate comparison online.

Should you use a switching site?

I appreciate that energy salespeople can be quite convincing. I should know – at Grand Designs Live earlier this year I was hounded by energy salespeople demanding to know how much I paid for my energy and guaranteeing to save me cash. As if I walk around with my energy consumption details on me!

But surely anyone who has used an energy comparison site can appreciate the inadequacy of comparing your bills with just one company. Only by using a good comparison site can you get the full picture of all the deals available and how much it will cost.

Plus, if you use a site like Which? Switch you can see how each company rates for customer satisfaction. This is a pretty important factor if, like me, you dread dealing with utility bills and like to get problems sorted as quickly as possible.

Don’t be duped into the wrong deal

So why are people still being duped by energy salespeople, instead of switching online? The Mail suggests it’s because they don’t have access to the internet.

Yes, this might account for some people, but surely not half. My guess is that people are either lazy or just don’t realise that switching sites can help.

If you’re reading this, I’ll assume you 1) have internet access, 2) aren’t lazy and 3) are likely to have used a switching site. So, I’m urging you to share your experiences with people you know. If you’ve got elderly relatives, warn them against switching without properly comparing the market. And if you’re feeling really philanthropic, why not help them find the best deal?

Oh yes, and do feel free to put me right if you have got a good deal from a doorstep energy salesperson… I’m waiting to be put right.


Yes Hazel, you have got it spot on. They all use the same spiel: your house has been highlighted as one paying too much for energy so they want to help you save money. They usually have a print-out with your address highlighted. Southern Electric’s “area manager” (who’s got time to knock on doors? yes, right!) told me I was paying more because my supplier has to pay them and charge me more to make a profit. British Gas’s “area manager” (yes, they are always the area manager – amazing!) showed me a price list which clearly showed I would save with them. It wasn’t easy, but I persuaded him to leave the price list with me – in the small print it was three years out of date. I tell them all that I will use the net to find the best deal and they leave. I have just changed tariffs with the same supplier having first checked with WHICH that it was the best deal – I’ll let you know if it’s not!