Which?  has reported that around half of those consumers surveyed in October 2009 had not read the terms and conditions on the contracts for their utility providers.

According to Which?, consumers who look at their Ts&Cs prior to making a switch can save themselves a lot of money and ensure they are getting the best deal possible.

Alison Morrison of Which?  said that most people will see the largest energy bills of the year during the winter season and that makes this time of the year the perfect time to switch.  However, Morrison warns that switching without knowing the Ts&Cs  associated with the contract can be costly now and in the future.

For example, those consumers who are currently using services provided by Scottish and Southern Energy may be unpleasantly surprised by the £75 fee they will be charged for cancelling their dual energy contract — this fee is applicable to all customers who cancel prior to December 31, 2009.  This information was not necessarily offered to customers upfront at sign up or at any time during the contract period.  However, it is listed in the terms and conditions of service that all customers are required to abide by.

As with Scottish and Southern Energy and all other energy services companies, costumers should carefully read terms and conditions. This would include searching for things such as fees and penalties associated with late payments, meter fittings, additional readings, shut off, shut off or moving services to a different address.

However,  there are other things consumers should consider as well. Many companies are now offering extra benefits, such as one month service rebates, charitable donations and free repairs on boilers during the contract period. Reading the Ts&Cs provided will help consumers find plenty of ways to save.

Which?  has called for OFGEM to place minimum standards on tariffs in order to make energy bills simpler to read and to point out the important elements of marketing deals and offers in a way that makes them easy to compare.