Customers

Examining how utilities are tackling the key issues of vulnerability and affordability

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After a bruising week for the energy retail market, in which wholesale power prices hit dramatic new heights, more than 500,000 customers saw their supplier exit the market and a major price comparison website was forced to suspend its energy services, the real fear is that we have yet to see the worst. Adam John looks at where the energy retail sector goes from here.
Analysis
One of the major price comparison services has halted energy comparisons after soaring wholesale costs resulted in suppliers restricted the number of tariffs available. Elsewhere other comparison services are offering a severely limited number of deals, with only a handful of suppliers listed on their sites.
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A customer service expert has warned utilities they cannot get away with blaming poor performance on Covid or Brexit. Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, pointed to evidence that after an initial wave of high satisfaction across sectors, consumers were now becoming more demanding and less likely to be pacified when they encounter problems.
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Download Utility Week’s report to discover the factors driving industry pilots of open banking technology to improve debt and payment management in the post-pandemic world.
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43 per cent of people are worries they can't afford their next fuel bill, according to a survey of 2,000 people by Citizens Advice. The charity is now handling 500 fuel-related problems each day and has urged consumers to check they are getting support they are entitled to from energy suppliers and government.
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In a water white paper published last month, government pledged to shake up the water industry. It set out plans that would eventually allow all non-domestic customers to choose their supplier, exposing water companies to competition in many cases for the first time. The government wants companies to be more responsive to customers and the environment, but has it done enough to make sure water remains affordable, and will it give companies and customers the tools they need to manage demand? Have your say in our live webchat, starting at 3pm. The webchat will scroll in a "Cover It Live" panel immediately below this paragraph. To have your say, use the comment box in the panel - no login required.
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SSE is the next major energy supplier to announce a price cut. The firm will cut gas prices by 4.5 per cent as of 26 March and promised not to raise electricity prices until October at the earliest.
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Calor Gas, the UK's biggest provider of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has announced plans to be the first rural energy supplier to become an energy services company (Esco).
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Consumer watchdogs have welcomed a five per cent price cut from independent energy firm Ovo. Consumer Focus said major suppliers will feel the heat from customers if they do not also pass on falls in wholesale prices.
The bitterly cold winter of 2010/11 resulted in widespread pipe bursts and call centre chaos - and the first snows of this winter have arrived. So how prepared is the water sector for a big freeze? Megan Darby investigates
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