So what should you do if your energy firm fails?

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The energy price crisis has now left millions of customers in the dark over refunds and rising bills.

Four million households have lost their supplier since gas prices began to rise three months ago.

But many people have told MoneyMail that they haven’t heard anything about replenishing credit balances or what they’ll have to pay any time soon.

Price lost: Nearly 40 lakh households have lost their supplier since the gas price hike began two months ago

Bulb, which had 1.7 million subscribers, became the largest firm this week, following more than 20 others.

And today’s MoneyMail poll shows that two-thirds of households are now worried about how they’ll cover their energy bills this winter.

Six out of ten households told us they were still waiting for a refund after their firm collapsed. And a quarter of these have been waiting for two months or more, according to a consumer intelligence survey.

Many are struggling to contact their new supplier by phone or email.

Sarah Cooper, a babywear entrepreneur from Surrey, had a credit of £460 when her supplier, Green, closed in September.

Shell Energy is competing with the firm’s clients, but Sarah, 42, says she hasn’t heard anything about their bills or credits.

She says: ‘We have been left in limbo. This is no small amount and it can be really useful around this time of year.’

Suzanne Samaka, a former Watford Avro Energy customer, is confused about where Octopus now puts her bill in her account.

Left in the lap: Sarah Cooper says she hasn't heard anything about her bills or credits after Green Energy shuts down

Left in the lap: Sarah Cooper says she hasn’t heard anything about her bills or credits after Green Energy shuts down

The 33-year-old, who runs the youth mental health campaign Honesty About Editing, says: ‘I don’t even know if we’re paying the right amount or that we’re going to be off with a big bill anytime soon.’

Cat Neven, whose provider Utility Point collapsed in September, is still waiting for its first bill from its new supplier, EDF.

The 24-year-old had £193.49 in credit in August and continues to pay £108 monthly direct debit.

Kat, who lives in Manchester, says: ‘I’m worried my bills will be too high.’

Regulator Offgame is now looking to put the bulb in the special administration. And wholesale gas prices are showing no sign of falling, with experts warning that dozens more companies could go down.

Here we tell where you stand if you are in trouble…

What happens when they fail?

Regulator Offgame will appoint a new supplier to handle your account, so you don’t have to worry about your power being cut. This usually takes a few days and the new firm should contact you after about a week.

But if that firm is taking on a large number of customers, the transfer could take months.

If you requested to switch firms before your old supplier ceased business, you should still be transferred to your chosen company.

For bulb customers, the process is a little different as this is the first time such a large firm has failed. For now, they will stay on the same tariff until an administrator is appointed and works out what to do.

Customers with pre-payment meters can continue to use any money loaded on their meter.

A new supplier should prefer to send them a new key if they require one to top up their account.

Bill fears: Kat Neven, whose provider Utility Point collapsed in September, is still waiting to move to its new supplier, EDF

Bill fears: Kat Neven, whose provider Utility Point collapsed in September, is still waiting to move to its new supplier, EDF

can i lose any money?

If you were earlier locked in a certain deal, your bills are likely to increase. This is because your new firm will move you to a standard variable rate tariff.

These deals are protected by a price range, which currently stands at £1,277 per year for the average user.

But according to comparison site The Energy Shop, it’s still about £410 a year more expensive than the best fixed deals on offer six months ago.

What if I have built up credit?

Any credit you have with your old supplier must be transferred to your new account.

If you are owed a large amount, you should be able to request a refund from your new provider. However, many customers complain that this can take months. If you were in the middle of a switch when your firm went bad, your balance should be transferred to your new supplier.

It’s up to Offgame’s appointed provider to refund you if something goes wrong. Any debt will also be carried over to your new account.

What can I do if my firm folds?

Take meter readings as soon as possible. Write it down in a safe place or take a photo on your phone so that you have a record in case of a dispute.

It’s also a good idea to keep any recent bills with you and print copies if you can only view them online. You should never cancel your direct debit under most circumstances; This is to ensure that any refund can be paid to your account.

However, if your old supplier continues to charge cash after your new provider starts billing you, cancel it immediately.

Ask the new supplier for a refund of the duplicate payment.

According to The Energy Shop, that cheapest fixed tariff on the market now costs the average household £1,650 a year – some £373 more than the price cap.

According to The Energy Shop, that cheapest fixed tariff on the market now costs the average household £1,650 a year – some £373 more than the price cap.

Can I switch to a better deal?

With firms barring customers from charging standard variable tariffs in excess of price limits, many have moved on to fixed deals.

In fact, the cheapest fixed tariff on the market now costs the average household £1,650 a year – some £373 more than the price cap, according to The Energy Shop.

The comparison site warns that the cap could rise to £1,751 in April due to higher wholesale prices, so there is a small chance you could save in the long run.

However, experts are urging families to stay there until the market calms down and cheap deals reappear.

Some firms have also been accused of refusing to take on new customers. But it’s against Offgame’s licensing rules.

Will my supplier be next?

Small firms were always at higher risk of folding this winter, as they could not ‘hedge’ by buying gas and electricity long ago.

However, the fall of the bulb shows that no provider is infallible.

Telltale signs of a struggling supplier include a sudden drop in customer service standards and protracted delays in returning credit.

If the issue is not resolved even after eight weeks, you can file a complaint with the Energy Ombudsman. You can also move to a new supplier before your firm collapses.

But with no cheap deals left, it’s almost certainly better to sit tight for now.

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