/ Home & Energy

Will QR codes lower your energy bills?

QR code

Want a cheaper energy deal? Can’t be bothered with the rigmarole of finding your energy bills, plugging details into a price comparison site and choosing the best deal? Could QR codes on energy bills be the answer?

Yes, the Department of Energy & Climate Change’s (DECC) new idea for getting us to switch supplier is the QR code.

Now, I’m not the most tech savvy person in Which? HQ, but even I know what a QR code is. You know, they’re those matrix barcodes that you can scan with your smartphone, which then zap you direct to the relevant website – apparently taking out the effort of searching for it on Google.

And given that switching levels in the energy market have been incredibly low – despite the fact that people can save money by shopping around – it seems like a smart idea. Not only does it take out the hassle of finding your last year’s energy bills, but it should also ensure that people don’t input incorrect information into a price comparison website and end up choosing the wrong deal for them.

More radical measures needed

Of course, DECC shouldn’t see it as the silver bullet to get us switching. For starters, there’s the question of how popular QR codes are. I’m probably not the best test case, but I’ve never used them.

Instead, QR codes (and other interventions like it) should just be seen as part of the arsenal to make the energy market more competitive. Our new Fix the Big Six campaign is pressing for much more radical measures to shake up the market, including simplifying energy prices and speeding up switching.

Both of these ideas are likely to have much wider reaching impacts on the energy market – showing fed up customers the benefit of changing supplier, and making energy companies work much harder for our business.

The Government and Ofgem have so far failed to introduce these changes. And that’s why we think enough is enough – it’s time for a full inquiry into the energy market to deliver a real dose of competition. Until then, where’s my smartphone?

Comments
Profile photo of Lee Beaumont
Member

This is not the best idea. But, hey, at least it’s something.

I still think the best way is to take weekly (or monthly) meter reading. I take mine every Monday and it has helped me so much as I keep them all on a spreadsheet (as well as my blog). So I can see week by week how much I have used.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

I am an enthusiast of QR codes and put them on publicity material, but I know that many don’t have a suitable mobile device to read them.

What would impress me more is to get rid of standing charges and have simple fixed unit prices so that they can be compared as easily as the price of petrol or a loaf of bread. Let us be fair and think about those who are unable to compare prices or simply find this difficult. They might not have a computer or a smartphone.

Profile photo of william
Member

One of the lamest ideas out, So my energy company is going to go to the effort of generating a unique QR for my none existent paper bills. So what should I do next, use my none existent smart phone to scan it in from my computer screen? I know my elderly parents will no zero means to read a QR code and I can guarantee that many other “vulnerable” groups will be in the same boat.

Here’s a novel idea, instead of wasting effort printing a QR code that not everyone getting a bill can use, why not PRINT in English the same details, or better still do the comparison for me and everyone else and print that. Too much like hard work? Well what better stick to get fewer / easier to understand tariffs.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

Sounds to me like another hi-tech gimmick to boost the sale of smart phones! I would have the added expense of purchasing one of these alongside some of my peers.

I fail to see how faster switching utilising this method can increase competition when as soon as you switch to a new supplier they immediately increase their prices to correspond with all the others which is the main reason why a lot of people gave up switching. Unless of course you switch to a fixed tariff which would no longer work as you are locked into one supplier with a hefty penalty if you change supplier.

Let’s keep it simple so that all consumers can understand exactly what they are paying for.
(See my previous comment “Time to fix the Big Six ……….” 8th March 5.26″ Select Committee Meeting”

Profile photo of william
Member

“you are locked into one supplier with a hefty penalty if you change supplier” can I suggest that you’re picking the wrong tariffs then, I’ve switched tariffs a few times over the last 3 years, and never had a penalty.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

William

With my fixed until Feb 2015 with Scottish Power I can change tariffs if I stay with them without incurring a penalty but have to pay £25 for gas & £25 for electric if I switch to another supplier.

Profile photo of william
Member

If I remember correctly, with my EDF fixed until March 2015 I’m free to leave with penalty. So they do exist, if you pick carefully. No exit penalty is just as important as cost when I’m looking for a new tariff.

Profile photo of Beryl
Member

If some Energy Co’s can offer flexible fixed tariffs then why don’t they all! Surely this is an area to be investigated Ofgem.

Profile photo of Davy Nook
Member

With the security record of public and commercial organisations I would never read a QR code into one of my machines. Even Apple have had rogue malware added into one of their own updates for their os.
The only sensible way is to read it in sandbox mode – beyond the capability of those who do not already use something like the excellent albeit limited loop system bought through Which? offers.