Bulb, the UK’s sixth largest energy supplier, has become the latest casualty of the ‘energy crisis’, which has already led to the collapse of around 20 smaller energy suppliers
The company, with 1.7 million customers and a thousand employees, has entered administration resulting in the biggest energy supplier collapse caused by this crisis.
Whilst Bulb is the largest energy company to have collapsed, their customers join millions of customers who belonged to the 20 smaller UK suppliers which collapsed in the recent months amid rising energy prices, with these customers now having to be moved to new suppliers chosen by the government regulator Ofgem.
The good news is that all customers are protected under Ofgem's safety net, which means the energy supply for customers will continue and all outstanding credit balances of domestic customers will be protected and transferred to a new supplier.
You are still being supplied by Bulb, but their administrations are in control. Customers will be contacted by a new supplier, who will be appointed by Ofgem. So far, suppliers such as EDF and British Gas have taken on smaller energy firms’ customers. But, if no new supplier can be found special administrators will be contacted by Ofgem and the Government.
Bulb have said "they are expecting a high volume of calls today, so please only call if it’s an emergency, you’re in a vulnerable situation or you are struggling to pay your bills. That way, they can help those who need it most at this time. And please bear in mind that response times will be longer than normal.".
Ofgem's advice for customers:
Ofgem’s current advice to customers in the meantime is to:
Not switch to another energy supplier until a new one has been appointed and you have been contacted by them in the following weeks
Take a meter reading ready for when your new supplier contacts you
This will make the process of transferring customers over to the chosen supplier, and paying back any outstanding credit balances, as smooth as possible.
Employees urged to read up on their rights
The news of Bulb’s collapse will be deeply concerning to those employed by Bulb. Kevin Mountford, co-founder of Raisin UK, provides this advice to people worried about redundancy.
Read up on your rights, especially when it comes to redundancy pay and settlements.
Look at your existing debts. Do you have outstanding balances on credit cards that you can pay off now? It may be wise to settle these whilst you can be sure on your current income.
Look at your monthly outgoings, is there anything you could negotiate a payment holiday for? This may help whilst you plan your next move in the short-term.
Prepare your CV and think about your future career options. If it seems like your job role is definitely at risk, start to think about other options and reach out to people who may be able to assist in your job search.
How to get the best energy deal
When you are moved to a new plan with a new company, your energy price may change. But, the good news is that you will not be charged exit fees.
Once the transfer has fully completed to your new supplier, you can then get shopping to find a new supplier to suit you.
Kevin Mountford, CEO of Raisin UK, offers these tips to customers who are trying to get the best deal for themselves (and their wallets):
Firstly, don’t be afraid to compare gas and electricity prices, this is essential to get the best deal. Whilst price comparison websites work really well, you can also manually compare them yourself (on their websites or by ringing them up), or you can use an automatic switching service which works out the best deal for you.
Price comparison websites can give you special tariffs that are exclusive to that website but remember that not all tariffs are shown. Some energy companies have their own tariffs if you switch direct, so make sure to not rely too heavily on these comparison websites.
As tempting as it may be to just let an automatic switching services do all the hard work for you, it may cost you more than it could. Make sure to read their terms and conditions, and understand how they pick the best tariff for you. You may want to look into which energy suppliers they work with, as they may not be able to switch you to the cheapest one out there. And finally, check whether it’s a free service or a paid service - why pay additional when you can do it yourself?
There’s no clear answer to the which is cheapest, fixed or variable tariff, question! When Which? Last checked on 16 November 2020, 41 of the cheapest 50 widely available tariffs were fixed deals. Energy firms compete to tempt customers to join, which is why they are attractively priced. The risk of cheap variable deals though is that companies can change the prices as and when they want. So that cheap deal may turn costly, and remember the ‘Energy Crisis’ that is causing all of this stress to begin with.
Remember, the cheapest price doesn’t always mean the best. Consider their reputation with customers. Are they likely to increase your bill?