As the nights draw in colder and darker, millions of UK households will be turning up their heating and switching on their lights. And millions will be paying unfair energy bills for it. So what needs to be done about this?
There’s a big problem with energy companies. We have had a two-year long Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) inquiry into the energy market. Finally it was revealed that customers on expensive tariffs collectively overpaid by £1.4bn for the energy they used.
Those people account for over half of all energy customers. They aren’t heating empty mansions for the fun of it; they’re simply paying way over the odds for the energy they use. They’re completely disengaged with the energy market, and paying top prices for an unfit standard variable tariff (SVT).
Unfair energy bills
Around 16 million people – over 58% of the ‘Big Six’s’ energy customers are on these SVTs deals – among the most expensive on offer. The problem is that many people on SVTs aren’t being prompted to look at better deals.
Attempts have been made to engage with energy customers in the past. These include initiatives such as printing the cheapest tariff information on bills and introducing customer charters to help more customers with billing and service. However, without proper trialing and testing these methods haven’t addressed the problem. The biggest energy companies continue to have too many customers stuck on the most expensive deals.
Recent Which? research found that the gap between a SVT price paid with the Big Six is, on average, £111 more than their cheapest tariffs.
Some of you will know the game all too well – unless you keep a beady eye on your meter readings and your tariff deadlines, when your energy company whacks up your tariff price it can be easy to end up paying more that you should on your bills.
Keeping bills down
So we’re demanding to know how energy companies will step up and take action for their customers this winter, and show that they are taking the market inquiry findings seriously and are committed to doing the right thing by their many customers.
Our Fair Energy Prices campaign is challenging energy companies to publish their plans to right this wrong by 31 January 2017, as well as take immediate action to help their customers this winter.
If you’re worried about keeping your bills down this winter, take a look at our top tips to help you get the most out of your heating and avoid being overcharged by your energy provider.
So, do you think energy suppliers should be doing more to help their customers off unfair energy bills? Can our challenge stir them into long-awaited action?