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Switching energy providers is easier now? .. not for me to Co-operative Energy

I am not shy about switching energy providers when I feel I am not getting a good deal so recently started the switch from Scottish power to Co-operative energy. When I say recently signed up to co-operative energy in mid December 13. Read on if you like to read about people wasting their time and pulling their hair out in utter desperation.

I am signed up to Quidco to make the savings even greater by clicking the USwitch option and comparing energy prices from there. If you use Uswitch via Quidco you will get £24 cashback, so worth having.

Anyway, it took until the 13th Jan until Co-operative energy told me that they needed my opening readings, which I supplied within 24hrs. I will try to keep it short from here as I intend to detail this in more depth once they have dealt with my complaint. Yes, I have complained. The first time I tried to complain I waited on hold for about 10-15 mins to be told by the pleasant lady who answered she could only take a message and had no access to my account. I was told I would be called back, I never was.

Meter readings important during switchover ??

So I gave Co-operative Energy 2 readings, 1 for gas 1 for electric. I was only able to enter my electric reading online; apparently I have an extra special gas meter, an independent one (no it does not have go faster stripes or pause when the tumble dryer is switched on) whatever that means. No one has yet to be able to explain and it looks like any other gas meter I have seen. Due to my extra special independent gas meter Co-operative Energy’s system could not take an online reading so I called and waited approx 50 mins to give this reading over the phone. This was dutifully recorded and disregarded as I explain below.

I was told by the Co-operative Energy staff if you have an independent gas meter the way the ‘changeover figure’ is communicated from old supplier to new is ‘completely different’ to a normal meter and this causes a delay in the figure being displayed online by your new supplier and the final bill being accurately generated by your old supplier. When asked what kind of delay i could expect as it is now about 6 weeks since supply started , I was told ‘it is really hard to tell.’

How on earth do they communicate this figure to each other that can take longer than 6 weeks? Do they attach the figure to the back of a snail and point it towards the old providers office !!??

Anyone like to hazard a guess and what the differences are between a standard gas meter and an independent one?

Accurate calculations when switching energy providers ??

So, surely it is a simple switch from here as after all they now have accurate opening readings ……. errr, no, am afraid not.

Sometime within 2 weeks after my electricity supply started with Co-operative started, low and behold a meter reader had apparently come out (as indicated by the legend on their website – where the reading is shown) and actually read the meter about 300 units less than I had recorded and passed onto them online and on the phone. How on earth had they recorded the figure that much less than it actually was? I must add the gas meter is NOT in a strange place, it is on the outside wall so can be easily read.

So it is now 27th Feb, and two days ago I got a final gas bill from Scottish Power calculated on an estimated gas reading for 10 days after the supply finished ie 23rd Jan. And guess what….. Yes you guessed it …. The figure was wrong !!! This time Scottish Power had recorded a figure about 150 units more than actually used and included 10 days of supply whilst I have had confirmed with the Co-operative I was being supplied by them. Aarrgggg

I had tried on the 13th Jan to also give Scottish Power the final readings (that was another 50 mins on hold and proved futile), which they would not use, but I insisted the readings were at least recorded on my notes. They would and could only use figures from my new provider as the ones to finalise my bill. 

Well, I have now spent  3-4 hrs dealing with this sloppy inefficient process, trying to rectify mistakes made by energy providers during switching providers. I am sure I have a few more ours required before it is resolved.

To be honest the situation beggars belief and is certainly not an advert for the progression made by energy companies in making switching easier. Why pluck figures out of the air when I have supplied accurate figures as requested…. mmm. 

It does raise questions …

Are energy providers really interested in charging for actual use or just being able to charge?

Are any of the providers that concerned about accurate opening and final reads, is it just easier for both providers to come to an agreement on guesstimated figures to make their life easier?

I am a proponent of the Co-operative, I bank and shop with them. Has Co-operative Energy forgotten about their members and focused on profit over customer service?

Is this a compelling argument in favour of smart meters being installed?

I do believe more competition in the market would help, but the competition needs to be able to can handle the influx of customers. Should OfGem look at companies and decide at what level of business their systems can handle and limit to that level until such time that they employ more resources.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences below and will try and update you on the situation as it happens.

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