New providers promise to automatically get you on the best deals as they become available
A rash of companies are offering to switch your electricity and gas suppliers automatically in what experts are hailing as the next phase of energy switching.
October saw the arrival of two “flipping” services: a small startup called Migrate and the first from a major price comparison site, GoCompare’s Weflip.
They join the ranks of at least half a dozen others whose sales pitch is that years of traditional price comparison sites have not worked, because switching supplier is too much hassle and that the savings eventually come to an end.
Such auto-switching sites are still a small part of the market, with a little over 100,000 people signed up. Some are free, while others charge.
The biggest player is Look After My Bills, which was featured on Dragons’ Den and has attracted more than 80,000 customers since it launched in January.
Following them are Flipper, which was the UK’s first auto-switching service when it launched in 2016 and has 20,000 customers, and Labrador, which has 5,000 users.
Others include Switchcraft, AutoSwitch and Switchd. “It’s early days but there’s no doubt we’re starting to move into the next phase of energy switching,” says Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.
Some, such as Labrador and Migrate, operate on the conventional commission-based model of price comparison sites, taking a cut from suppliers. Others charge householders a fee for the service, such as Flipper’s £25 a year.
Other differences include whether they support all meter types – some do not work with homes on prepayment meters – and whether they filter out suppliers with poor customer service.
Henry de Zoete, co-founder of Look After My Bills, says: “We’ve had 20 years of price comparison sites shouting at people to switch yet still millions don’t.”
And Flipper adds: “Auto-switching is the future as it resolves the two main reasons people give for not switching energy suppliers: it is confusing or it is a hassle.”
But Martin Lewis points out that while the services are good for convenience, better savings can be made by householders searching for the cheapest deals themselves.
Mark Todd, of price comparison site Energyhelpline, says that most auto-switching sites were not searching all the tariffs available.
Jane Lucy, founder of Labrador, hit back: “The criticism is largely coming from suppliers because their models rely on penalising loyalty.”