12th September 2014
Just one in five people trust their energy supplier to charge a fair price, leading consumer group Which? to call for a more transparent way to compare costs.
The group has launched a campaign calling for fair energy prices after a survey revealed a shocking lack of trust in energy companies. Just 18% of people trust suppliers to charge a fair price for their gas and electricity and 54% said it is difficult to compare the prices of different energy deals.
Just one in six consumers believe energy companies act in customers’ best interest and only 26% rated their supplier as good at offering them a fair price.
Rising energy bills have become an increasing stress on household budgets and energy prices consistently rank as the number one financial concern, with four in 10 worried about the cost of heating their home this winter.
Just over a quarter, 26%, said they don’t know whether they can afford to heat their home this winter.
Which? said pricing needs to be simpler to help people find the best deals but there also needs to be a ‘credible, independent benchmark’ – a ‘price to beat’ – against which to compare prices.
The benchmark would be set by the energy regulator but Which? denied it would be a return to full price regulation.
The Which? Fair Energy Prices campaign wants the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to look at establishing a benchmark as part of its current review of the energy market and require energy suppliers to use simple, directly comparable pricing, similar to petrol pump displays.
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 CMA 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.’