/ Home & Energy, Shopping

Your view: remarks on regulation

We invited Vince Cable to explain what the Government is doing to put consumers at the forefront of regulation. The debate was quickly in full swing, so we’ve rounded up some of your best comments.

A number of your comments took the supermarkets to task over their pricing and special offer tactics.

Anthony Kennedy told us:

‘I hate this Bogof system, as some supermarkets even have you having to buy up to five items to get a discount. As a pensioner I mostly only want one item. The pensioners army is growing every year, so supermarkets beware.’

And Alfa likes the American way:

‘Several times in the USA we have bought one item that is on a multi-buy offer and have been pleasantly surprised when paying to find the price adjusted to the offer price. Why can’t our supermarkets do the same?’

Energy market overhaul

The discussion also touched on your concerns about the energy market, from how you’re charged for your energy and how suppliers purchase their energy to start with. Dave told us:

‘Simple unit pricing for gas and electricity would introduce simple competition between the energy suppliers-it is as simple as that. The energy companies know this and they don’t want it to happen so legislation is needed to make it happen.’

Burgmeister agreed with Dave but had some bigger concerns over transparency, saying:

‘I cannot understand why companies are allowed to be both supplier and generator. This clearly puts these combined companies at an advantage to any newcomer that has to purchase their energy from them before selling on to the consumer. Seperate the two, simplify the tariffs and get the bills down.’

Value for money?

Others of you had some more general concerns about the regulation of markets with Wavechange asking if the regulators are fit for purpose:

‘They seem to be listening far too much to the companies they are there to control and not to the needs of the consumer, which they are there to serve. Are any of our regulators giving us value for money?’

And Red Rose Romer told us we don’t need new laws and regulations, just companies and industries whoo treat their customers fairly, winning our Comment of the Week:

‘We don’t want new laws which will be ignored and new levels of bureaucracy; we just want fair dealing and a new code of ethics throughout business and government. Anybody seen to be acting unfairly should have to repay any profits they have made and the directors should be ostracised. We need to set an example.’


It would be nice to see some feedback from Vince Cable.

One thing I deduce from some of the salient comments above is, as long as we rely on foreign companies and EU regulation to heat our homes for example, we are never going to be in control of our own destiny. In a crisis situation a country is duty bound to put its own interests before others.

It is disappointing when a UK company becomes part of a large overseas company even if UK operations are maintained. What is inexcusable is that government has allowed overseas companies to control much of our energy supply.

And apart from renewables and nuclear, most of the raw material for energy is now imported. How is it making sense to be dependent on Russia and north Africa for gas, or on America for coal [which, because of the growth of shale gas production, has become so cheap it is economic to ship it 3,000 miles to Europe and send the ships back empty].

……………………..and as a result increased our dependency on them and their ability to determine their own prices through vertical integration. Energy and food are essential commodities, our very lives depend upon them and we should not be put in a position where we are being held to ransom by an uncompetitive exploitative market system.

2012 figures for UK gas sources show Qatar (LNG) 14.8%, Netherlands 8.1%, Belgium 1.5%, Norway 29.8%, UK indigenous 45.5% (but clearly reducing as yields decline). So if we want to continue using gas, and don’t want to rely so much on overseas sources, it looks like fracking has to be pursued (at least in the shorter term). I’d like to see wave and tidal power explored more enthusiastically – it is abundant and clean, but may affect certain peoples’ environments (like wind farms and HS2 do and will). We may have to pay more for energy because of the huge investments that may be involved but what do we really want for the future? And we may (and I think should) fund it out of public money, not rely on private companies or PFI-type sleight of hand to finance it.

Maybe you should run a poll for each regulator with options along the lines of Doing an outstanding job, just about doing a job, do we have a regulator for this, regulator not up to the job.