4. What is the duration of this contract? Will they remind me of the contract end date? What do I have to do if I want to end the contract early?
Business electricity contracts can be anywhere between one and five years. Suppliers make it very difficult or too expensive or some impossible for you to break a business electricity contract early. As your contract comes to a natural end, they are obliged to write to you with a renewal offer however a tactic to retain customers is not especially drawing your attention to opening of your renewal window.
A good broker, however, will have your renewal dates already logged in their diary as a reminder for them to get back in touch with you to offer a timely business electricity cost comparison. If you aren’t using a broker then have this date in your business diary, however, I would strongly recommend using an energy broker for both your gas and your electricity supplies (they can often assist with telephone tariffs as well).
5. How and when do I contact my supplier if I want to switch energy supplier? In what circumstances can you stop me switching to another energy supplier?
The main reasons why contract switches fail are because the customer is either still in contract or has an outstanding debt with their original supplier. So make sure you have given sufficient notice on an original contract and make sure your account is up to date.
6. Who can I contact to find out more information about my contract, and what information will they need from me to look up these details?
Whether you are contacting a supplier or a broker for this information, the one thing you’ll always be asked for is your supply number (10 digit ‘MPR’ for business gas or a 21 digit ‘MPAN’ for business electricity). This will enable them to access the information about your consumption, your supply area and what kind of electricity/gas user you are.
7. Under what circumstances can my energy supply be cut off? What notification would I receive and what procedures must be followed?
This question is designed to remind the customer what might happen if they don’t pay their bills. My advice is to keep on top of payments by direct debit as your business or company credit score can be adversely affected as a result of non-payment and prices for commercial electricity and gas can be directly linked to your credit score. Most suppliers offer a discount for payment by direct debit.
8. What options are available regarding payment terms?
See above. If you think you are going to be unable to pay all or part of an energy bill contact the supplier they will usually do their best to create a payment plan to pay off any outstanding amount. You must be realistic in agreeing to a payment plan in that you must be able to afford to pay for current and future consumption at the same time as paying for past consumption.
9. Am I committed to a minimum or maximum volume? If so what charges can be incurred in relation to this?
Generally speaking, for small businesses such as pubs, business gas and electricity prices are quoted based on historic consumption, are fixed rate for a fixed term and it is highly unlikely that your pub will be subjected to consumption targets.
Top Tips – with all the adverse coverage power companies have experienced make sure you insist on an account that does not automatically renew and get a written statement to that effect. Demand a written statement from your supplier that confirms you are on the lowest tariff for your business and they will inform you if a cheaper tariff becomes available.
Useful links to help you
If you want to find out more: http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/ is the website for OFGEM.
Other sites you may be interested in:
For advice and how to complain about an energy company:
Further ways to save energy:
To see if you are due a refund on charges from an existing utility account specialist utility brokers Utility Refunds can offer advice and assistance with any refunds due.
See also my separate articles on:
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