Frequently asked questions
1I WANT TO SWITCH TO SYMBIO ENERGY, HOW DO I DO IT?
2HOW LONG DOES THE SWITCHING PROCESS TAKE?
3WILL I LOSE ELECTRICITY SUPPLY WHEN I SWITCH?
No. It will be a smooth transition. There will be no disruption to your existing supply.
4DO I NEED TO CONTACT MY CURRENT SUPPLIER ABOUT SWITCHING?
5HOW CAN I PAY SYMBIO ENERGY FOR MY ELECTRICITY BILL?
The recommended and hassle-free option is to sign up for Direct Debit. You could also pay via Bank Transfer. Our account details are mentioned on the bill
6WHAT IS A 'DUMB' METER?
‘Dumb’ meters are traditional Gas and Electricity meters found in many homes, across the UK. These meters need to be manually read and the details passed to your energy supplier on a monthly basis. This is to ensure that the amount of energy you are using, is accurately represented on your bill.
7WHAT IS A 'SMART' METER?
‘Smart’ meters are the new current generation of metering which the UK government hopes to have in every household by 2020. The benefits of smart meters include giving the supplier a live real-time view of your usage and energy activity. This would bring an end to estimated billing across the industry — helping customers to save money.
8HOW DO I GET A SMART METER?
Don’t worry. We would be providing everyone with a smart meter. Symbio Energy is working towards ensuring that all its customers would have a smart meter installed at their premises, by 2020.
9COULD A SMART METER HELP ME SAVE ENERGY?
The answer would be a definite yes. A smart meter provides real time data of your energy consumption. This would help you in better controlling of your energy usage, resulting in savings on your energy bills.
10WHEN DO I NEED TO SUBMIT A METER READING?
You can submit your monthly meter reads to Symbio Energy through our customer portal. You could either call us on 0333 050 9372 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to provide the reads. You could also send us a photograph of the meter display if you are having difficulties in reading your meter.
11HOW OFTEN DO I HAVE TO PROVIDE METER READINGS AND HOW CAN I PROVIDE THEM?
The electricity market works on Estimated Annual Consumption (EAC) and Profile Classes. This is an average estimated energy usage based on a property type and the average number of people living in this property.
It follows that if you live in a 3-bedroom semi-detached house with just your partner, your EAC will be higher than your actual usage and you will have an estimated monthly bill which is higher than your actual energy usage.
Conversely, if you live in a 3-bedroom house with 4 children who are constantly gaming, then the EAC will be lower than the actual usage and you will have an estimated monthly bill which is lower than your actual energy usage.
It is important to remember; you can only be charged for what you use. Therefore, if you have overpaid, this money is yours and due back to you. Conversely, if you have used more energy than the EAC, you will have to top up the difference. You only pay for what you have used.
Symbio Energy will send a reminder on a monthly basis for meter reads. This can be submitted via the Customer On-Line portal or by calling customer services. We are working on a Phone App and other novel, easier methods for our customers.
We must however have at least one meter read per year without fail from every customer. This is an Ofgem requirement and to be honest, fair for everyone to know who is due a refund and who needs to pay a little more for their usage.
12THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF NEW ELECTRICITY COMPANIES THAT HAVE GONE BUST TRYING TO PROVIDE CHEAPER RATES. WILL SYMBIO BE JOINING THEM?
This is a fair and reasonable question. After all, why can we afford to be cheaper without going bust when the others are so much more expensive?
The electricity market is complex with many, many, counterparties in the market and each of these parties adds to the price of electricity. The biggest cost is staffing in a complex market and of course in the case of the larger companies, shareholders and expensive management boards.
Symbio Energy can mitigate this as a new entrant by utilising the latest software solutions and architecture to minimise staff costs and of course, we do not have a bloated management structure.
Our hope is to emulate the growth in low cost airlines by concentrating on technology, increasing efficiency and minimising waste costs. Most importantly, the failures in the industry have arisen due to cash flow management. This is difficult as the price of energy fluctuates dramatically and due to customers, that fail to pay. Failure occurs if sufficient buffers of cash have not been kept addressing unexpected spikes in energy prices and provisions for climate change.
Symbio is currently sending bills, a month after an effective switch and monies are collected up to 4 weeks later. This is a huge strain as credit and bank costs are onerous. Hence like the rest of the industry we will be moving to taking a direct debit based on the estimated advance usage by a customer for the forthcoming month. The bill once invoiced will be set off against the monies held on account and a balancing payment requested equivalent to estimated consumption of energy expected. When a customer leaves, the final bill will be a small refund to the customer or a small final bill.
In order to keep prices low, we only offer direct debit tariffs at present so that delayed payments do not affect the company and the many customers who are able to pay on time.
We do however understand that circumstances change and we will always find ways of assisting those in trouble due to a change of circumstance.
13I HAVE PROBLEMS LOGGING ONTO MY CUSTOMER PORTAL. WHAT DO I DO?
There was an error on the system whereby all customers including those awaiting a switch were sent an e-mail requesting a meter read. This was an error as only customers who are switched to Symbio have an active customer reference number. Once this is active, the customer portal for the customer is also active.
If you have any problems, please accept our sincere apologises and do not hesitate to call our customer services who will be happy to assist.
14WHY DO I NEED TO SUBMIT A METER READ?
The industry works on estimated profiles classes. A typical 3-bedroom semi will consume a certain amount of electricity. The estimates are used for billing and forecast purposes. If you use more than the average property within a profile class, you will be underpaying on estimated bills. If, however, you use less energy then you may be overpaying. An actual meter read ensures that you neither overpay nor underpay. Smart meters will remove this requirement in the future.
15HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SWITCH TO SYMBIO ENERGY?
It normally takes 14 – 21 days for an effective switch to take place. The process involves notifying all counter-parties in the supply chain including the older supplier. Often the old supplier will object or another stakeholder will reject the request to switch. If this happens, we will write to you and inform you of the issue and try and assist you in resolving the matter. We will honour the promised tariff rate in the event of a delay.
16WHERE CAN I COMPLAIN OR PROVIDE FEEDBACK?
We are in the process of setting up a dedicated feedback form on our website. Feedback, both positive and negative is welcomed. We are not perfect and whilst we are growing, we will stumble and we will make mistakes. For this we sincerely and humbly apologise. We will try and rectify our errors quickly and strive to provide the service you deserve at a cost-effective price. We sincerely value your custom.
17WHY DOES SYMBIO ENERGY ONLY OFFER DIRECT DEBIT TARIFFS?
Credit control is one of the single biggest costs in the electricity market. Chasing people to pay on time takes a lot of man-hours and is costly. Invariably, once you have to chase a customer, the relationship is tarnished and the customer and Symbio Energy lose trust with one another.
When a customer fails to pay their bill, the cost of the energy is shared by all our existing customers as we have to increase our prices to cover unpaid bills. If a customer is late in paying their bill because they are busy, then this has a detrimental effect on all other customers who pay on time as this late payment has to be serviced as Symbio Energy needs to pay the electricity generators and bank for interest.
We understand that people may not like Direct Debits but if we do not adhere to this policy, our electricity costs will have to go up and we want to avoid this at all costs. In order to maintain our prices, we need to keep costs low for the majority and this means Direct Debits and reducing our credit control department functions.
The Direct Debit guarantee provides protection to the customer against mistakes or monies being taken from your accounts incorrectly.
We will make exceptions of course. There are vulnerable customers or customers who have fallen on hard times. We will work with these customers. It is only right and to be expected. These customers can request access to our tariff prices on a non-Direct Debit basis.
18WHEN CAN I SWITCH, WITHOUT PAYING THE EXIT FEE? DO YOU HAVE A SWITCHING WINDOW?
We offer a 49 day switching window, this is the period before the end of a fixed-term contract when consumers have the right to switch without incurring exit fees.It starts from either 49 days before the end of a fixed term contract, or when a supplier sends the statement of renewal terms, whichever is earlier.
19ESSENTIAL READING ON COMPARISON WEBSITES
Comparison Websites perform a vital function in providing price transparency. However, they have two tiers of comparison. Direct on-line switches through the website and Open Market View or Wide Market View.
Energy companies pay comparison websites for switching via their portal and some of the larger energy companies have preferential terms with these sites and the results are favoured due to this commercial relationship. This can be direct or more often than not through arbitrary star ratings favouring their preferred customers. On average, a comparison website will charge £32 per fuel to the energy company for switching via their website and this cost is passed onto the customer through higher prices. This is fair enough as the website is commercial venture and they need to make a profit.
Smaller companies do not have on-line switches with Comparison Websites and their tariffs have to be legally shown on the Open Market View, Wide Market View or Non-Switchable Tariffs on these websites. As these companies do not have to pay the same switch fee, the tariff prices are invariably lower on the Open Market View or non-online switches via the comparison website. It is worthwhile looking at the Open Market View to find the best tariffs.