Are you confused by all the energy tariffs out there? Have you teared your hair out trying to switch energy supplier? Well, you’re not the only one! Something needs to change and we need you to support our campaign.
Twelve years ago nobody cared about which energy tariff they were on, because there was only one choice. It was British Gas for gas and your local electricity board for electricity – or a cold and dark home.
With liberalisation came choice – and the newly-privatised energy companies certainly didn’t hold back. A barrage of tariffs was unleashed onto unsuspecting consumers.
According to research we’ve published today, an average home in the East Midlands now has a bewildering 89 different tariffs to choose from. And that’s just the monthly direct debit ones.
Even Ofgem – not widely known to stand up for the interests of consumers in the past – might be with us in the ‘too much choice’ camp. The regulator’s research shows seven in ten people find the number of tariffs confusing, with just over half saying it’s too hard to work out whether they’d make a saving if they switched supplier.
We need information
Choice only works when consumers are equipped with the information they need to make the right one. The suppliers themselves can’t be relied upon to provide this information.
For instance, we’ve found that none of them actively inform (other than on their websites) their current customers about the availability of alternative tariffs that will potentially save them money. That’s some reward for loyalty.
And when they’re bringing out new tariffs all the time – npower’s introduced 19 versions of its cheapest ‘Sign Online’ deal since 2005 – this is a big problem.
The new government has already announced its plans to ‘increase household’ control by ensuring that energy bills give information on how to move to the cheapest tariff. This is welcome, but we want it to go much further.
Support our campaign
So, today we’re launching a campaign for minimum standards for energy tariffs – because providing information on the cheapest tariffs simply isn’t enough.
We think suppliers should have to give a minimum of 12 weeks’ advanced notice if a tariff is going to change in price or a special offer is coming to an end. At the moment they can tell us about this 65 days after the change has happened!
The upcoming Energy Bill (which will go through parliament before Christmas) is our opportunity to secure mandatory minimum standards which will lead to less confusing tariffs. There are big savings to be had out there, but if there isn’t change, finding the best deal will continue to be a game of chance.
So, if you’re convinced by our campaign, help us convince the government by emailing your MP. Join in the Conversation here by telling us your experiences of trying to find the best energy deal for your home.