Which? calls for fair energy prices

12-09-2014

New Which? research has revealed a shocking lack of trust in energy companies as the organisation launches a new campaign calling for fair energy prices.

Which?’s latest research reveals just one in five people (18%) in the UK trust suppliers to charge a fair price for their energy and more than half (54%) say it’s difficult to compare the prices of different energy deals. The organisation also found that just one in six consumers (17%) trust energy companies to act in customers’ best interests, and only a quarter (26%) rate their supplier as good at offering them a fair price.

Energy prices consistently rank as the number one financial concern for UK consumers, with four in ten (41%) worried about the cost of heating their home this winter. One in four (26%) said they don’t know whether they can afford to heat their home this winter, and only a quarter (24%) believe that competition between energy companies currently drives down prices for consumers.

Along with simpler pricing to help people more easily spot the best deals, Which? believes that consumers need a credible, independent benchmark – a ‘price to beat’ – against which to compare prices. Energy suppliers would compete against this ‘price to beat’, which would be set and regularly updated by the energy market regulator. This would not be a return to full price regulation. It could take a number of forms and similar models already exist in parts of the US and Northern Ireland.

Which?’s new Fair Energy Prices campaign is calling for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), as part of its current investigation into the energy market, to:

Investigate the best way for the regulator to establish a ‘price to beat’, so that consumers can trust that the price they pay is fair.

Require energy suppliers to use simple, directly comparable pricing, similar to petrol pump displays, so people can more easily compare prices and make the best choice if they switch.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said:

“Our research shows that the energy market remains at rock bottom for consumer trust. Millions of customers still don’t think they’re paying a fair price and most people find it hard to compare deals.

“Big reforms are needed to restore confidence in the industry and to guarantee fairer energy prices for consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority should now investigate how the independent regulator could establish a price people can trust that will spur suppliers to compete and reassure worried consumers that they’re not being ripped off.  Meanwhile, energy companies should use simple pricing to increase confidence in the industry and boost competition by encouraging switching.”

People can support our campaign for Fair Energy Prices at http://whi.ch/F4IR3NERGY