So what SHOULD you do if your energy company goes bankrupt?

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

Four million households have lost their supplier since gas prices started rising three months ago.

But many have told Money Mail that they haven’t heard anything about recovering funds or what they will have to pay soon.

Bulb, which had 1.7 million customers, became the largest company to go bankrupt this week — after more than 20 others.

About 4 million homes have lost their supplier since gas prices started rising two months ago

About 4 million homes have lost their supplier since gas prices started rising two months ago

And a Money Mail poll shows that two-thirds of households are now concerned about how they will pay their energy bills this winter.

Six in ten households told us they were still waiting for a refund after their business collapsed. And a quarter of those have been waiting two months or more, according to the Consumer Intelligence survey.

Many find it difficult to contact their new supplier by phone or email.

Sarah Cooper, a baby clothes entrepreneur from Surrey, had £460 on credit when her supplier, Green, went bankrupt in September.

Shell Energy is taking over the company’s customers, but Sarah, 42, says she hasn’t heard anything about her bills or credit.

She says, ‘We have been abandoned. It’s not a small amount and it can be very useful around this time of year.’

Sarah Cooper hasn't heard anything about her bills or credit after Green Energy went bankrupt

Sarah Cooper hasn't heard anything about her bills or credit after Green Energy went bankrupt

Sarah Cooper hasn’t heard anything about her bills or credit after Green Energy went bankrupt

Former Avro Energy customer Suzanne Samaka, of Watford, is confused about where her bills are now that Octopus has taken her bill.

The 33-year-old, who leads the youth mental health campaign, Honesty About Editing, says: “I also don’t know if we’re paying the right amount or if we’re going to end up with a huge bill soon.”

Cait Naven, whose provider Utility Point collapsed in September, is still waiting for her first bill from her new supplier, EDF.

The 24-year-old had £193.49 in credit in August and she has gone on to pay the £108 monthly direct debit.

Cait, who lives in Manchester, says: ‘I’m afraid my bills are going to be super high.’

Supervisor Ofgem now wants to place Bulb in a special administration. And with wholesale gas prices showing no signs of declining, experts warn dozens of other companies could go under.

Here we explain where you stand when you are in the crisis…

What happens if they fail?

Regulator Ofgem appoints a new supplier to take over your account so you don’t have to worry about your power going out. This usually takes a few days and the new company will contact you about a week later.

But if that company takes on a large number of customers, the transfer could take months.

If you requested to change companies before your old supplier stopped trading, you will still need to be moved to your chosen company.

For Bulb customers, the process is a little different, as it is the first time such a large company has failed. For now, they will remain at the same rate until an administrator is appointed and work out what to do.

Customers with prepayment meters can continue to use the money on their meter.

A new vendor should give priority to sending a new key if they need one to top up their account.

Cait Naven, whose provider collapsed in September, awaits transfer to her new supplier

Cait Naven, whose provider collapsed in September, awaits transfer to her new supplier

Cait Naven, whose provider Utility Point collapsed, awaits transfer to EDF

Can I lose money?

If you were previously locked into a fixed deal, your bills are likely to soar. This is because your new company is switching you to a standard variable rate.

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

But this is still about £410 a year more expensive than the best landline deals from six months ago, according to comparison site The Energy Shop.

What if I have built up a credit?

Any credit you had with your old supplier should be transferred to your new account.

If you owe 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 halfway through a switch when your company went bankrupt, your balance should be transferred to your new supplier.

If something goes wrong, it is up to the supplier designated by Ofgem to reimburse you. Any debts will also be transferred to your new account.

What can I do if my company folds?

Take a meter reading as soon as possible. Write it down somewhere safe or take a photo on your phone so you have a file in case of a dispute.

It’s also a good idea to keep recent bills and print copies if you can only view them online. In most cases you should never cancel your direct debit; this is to ensure that any refunds can be credited to your account.

However, if your old supplier continues to take cash as soon as your new supplier bills you, cancel it immediately.

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

The cheapest flat rate on the market now costs the average household £1,650 a year

The cheapest flat rate on the market now costs the average household £1,650 a year

The cheapest flat rate on the market now costs the average household £1,650 a year

Can I switch to a better deal?

As companies have been prevented from charging customers more than the price cap on standard variable rates, many have increased fixed deals.

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

The comparison site has warned that the cap could rise to £1,751 in April to account for higher wholesale prices, so there’s a slim chance you could save in the long run.

However, experts are urging families to hold back until the market calms down and cheaper deals reappear.

Some companies have also been accused of refusing to take on new customers. But this is against Ofgem’s licensing rules.

Will my supplier be next?

Smaller companies have always been at greater risk of collapse this winter, as they cannot ‘cover themselves’ by purchasing gas and electricity far in advance.

However, Bulb’s collapse suggests that no provider is infallible.

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

If there is still no solution to a problem after eight weeks, you can submit a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman. You can also switch to a new supplier before your company goes bankrupt.

But now that there are no more cheap deals, it’s almost certainly better to sit still for now.

f.parker@moneymail.co.uk

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