I’ve had enough. Most people I speak to about our ‘tackle tariffs’ campaign agree that energy tariffs need to be simplified across the board. So why do Ofgem’s reforms only deal with a small part of the problem?
The Retail Market Review – words that might have the effect of sleeping pills on some people, but today they got me out of bed, wide awake, at 5am.
Why? Well, we’ve been campaigning against unfair and confusing energy tariffs since the end of September. We think that customers are easily confused and misled by complicated discounts, tiered tariff systems, and a whole host of gimmicks that make the cost of your energy almost impossible to work out.
How should a simple tariff system work?
Over 6,500 people emailed Ofgem to call for a simple tariff system, and the Retail Market Review, released today, was supposed to provide a solution. We’d been hoping that Ofgem would recommend a simple system for all energy tariffs – meaning you can compare prices at a glance and pick the cheapest deal for you.
But, as with energy tariffs themselves, it’s not quite that simple. Ofgem has proposed simpler tariffs (hooray!) but only for one type of energy tariff – the standard one.
This means that companies would have to offer a nice, easy-to-compare tariff for each different payment type, but they can still throw loads of other confusing deals into the mix. So you won’t really be able to compare everything.
It also means, depending on the ‘innovative’ deals they offer, that low energy users could still end up being penalised by paying significantly higher rates for their first energy units.
To me, this reform only deals with a small part of the problem – it’s like tidying your bedroom by sweeping most of the mess under the bed.
How do we fix this?
But there is some light at the end of the tunnel – at Which? we don’t give up that easily. The proposals are out for consultation for the next 12 weeks, so there’s time to make the change that’s so desperately needed.
Ofgem, although it’s making some headway, hasn’t fully taken our tariff suggestions on board. So we’re asking the government to step in. You can help us by calling for Chris Huhne to tackle tariffs. Sign the pledge below if you’re fed up with tariff deals that leave you bewildered:
In the meantime, tell us about your experiences with this issue – have you ever tried to work out the cost of your energy? When we started this campaign I tested myself by going through my bill and trying to work out if the amount I was paying was correct. I *think* I got it right in the end, but it took me over an hour and a fairly complicated spreadsheet to be certain.