Bills and payments

Erroneous transfer: what to do if you’ve been switched by mistake

Have you been switched to a new energy supplier without your permission? That’s an “erroneous transfer”.

Think this has happened to you? Don’t worry! It’s easy to fix, and you might even be able to get some compensation. Keep reading to find out more about why erroneous transfers happen, and what to do about them.

What's an erroneous transfer?

An erroneous transfer is when you’re switched to a new energy supplier by mistake. 

The good news is that problems switching energy supplier are fairly uncommon. According to Which?, just 5% of people find switching supplier difficult. Erroneous transfers are thankfully pretty rare.

Can my energy supplier change without my permission?

No. If you’re the energy account holder, then your energy supplier can’t be changed without your permission. 

There is one exception to this: if you’re a tenant and you don’t pay the bills yourself.

  • If you’re a tenant and you pay your own energy bills, then only you can switch suppliers. Your landlord can’t do it for you. (Though they might suggest a ‘preferred supplier’ in your contract.)

  • If you’re a tenant and your landlord pays your energy bills, then they get to choose which energy supplier you’re with. So technically they can switch suppliers without your permission.

In general, if your name is on the bills, then you have to give your permission to switch.

Read more about how to set up your gas and electricity bills while renting

Why erroneous transfers happen

There are a number of reasons why an energy supplier might accidentally switch you:

  • They’ve mixed up your details with someone else’s – this can happen if you live in a flat or new build property

  • There’s been a human error: for example, someone accidentally selected the wrong address from a drop-down menu

  • There’s been a computer systems error

  • In very rare cases, a property is signed up to commit fraud

  • Your meter isn’t labelled properly in the national database

What happens during an erroneous transfer?

The first sign of an erroneous transfer might be an unexpected letter or email that says something along the lines of “Sorry you’re leaving”, from your current energy supplier. You might also receive a final bill when you didn’t ask for one. 

If you’re an OVO member and this happens to you, please let us know as quickly as possible. You can call us on 0330 303 5063, Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm. Or start a live online chat with one of our team members. We’ll get this fixed for you straight away.

How long does an erroneous transfer take to sort out?

Once you’ve let us know that you think you’re being switched by mistake, we’ll take care of the rest. We aim to sort out erroneous transfers within 12 weeks. 

We’ll get in touch with the other energy supplier to stop the switch. We’ll do this by raising an objection to the switch. It’s important to do this as quickly as possible after the switch started, so please let us know as soon as you realise what’s happening. 

Who do I pay for energy while an erroneous transfer is being fixed?

If you’re an OVO member who is switched by mistake, you won’t have to pay a penny to the new supplier. We'll continue to send your bills as normal. Simply keep paying your usual Direct Debits to us. 

If you pay as you go for your energy and have been put in credit mode with a smart meter, you may need to repay any usage while in credit. If you're in Pay As You Go mode, keep topping up as normal and we'll claim back any payments you made to the other supplier.

I’m trying to switch to OVO, but something’s gone wrong

If you’re trying to switch to OVO, but you’ve noticed that some details (like your MPAN number) are wrong on your welcome letter or first bill, then it might be that we’ve taken over the wrong supply.

In this case, please let us know as soon as possible. We’ll get it sorted in no more than 12 weeks. 

Not sure if you’ve had an erroneous transfer? Check the supply numbers on your recent bills. These are also known as your MPAN or MPRN numbers. They identify your gas or electricity supply.

If your usual supply numbers don’t match the numbers on your “welcome” letter, or your first bill from your new supplier, then something may have gone wrong with your switch. 

Here’s a bit more information about MPAN and MPRN numbers and how to find them

Can I get compensation for an erroneous transfer?

Yes! If you’ve been switched by mistake, on or after 1 May 2019, you may get compensation.

You’ll get a minimum of £30 for the inconvenience. The maximum is £120, which is payable if your energy isn’t switched back to your original supplier in a timely way1. The new supplier (the one you’re switched to) is the one that pays up.

This rule was introduced by the energy regulator, Ofgem.

What normally happens when you change energy supplier?

Switching energy suppliers is usually a piece of cake!

All you have to do is:

  • Search online to get quotes from different suppliers and find one that’s best for you

  • Tell that supplier you’d like to switch to them

  • Give them your details (including postcode and bank details)

  • Leave the rest to them, and you’ll usually be switched over within 5 working days, unless a different date has been agreed with you!

Your gas and electricity won’t be interrupted while you’re switched to a new supplier. And you should get your final bill from your old supplier within 6 weeks2

If you pay as you go for your energy with a smart meter, you’ll move to credit mode before you switch to make sure you don't go off supply.

Read our complete guide to what happens when you change energy supplier

Need more help? Check the OVO forum

More help is on hand for this topic on the OVO Forum. If you don't find the answers you need, feel free to ask a question and one of our forum users can help.

 And you can always start a live online chat with our friendly team.

Sources and references

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