Energy companies in ‘last chance saloon’, warns Which?

Suppliers are still not engaging with energy customers about switching from expensive tariffs, despite the two-year investigation into the market.

Which? has found that 74 per cent of customers have still not been contacted by their supplier about changing their tariff, after the two-year probe into the market by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which showed 58 per cent of energy customers are stuck on Standard Variable Tariffs (SVT).

The CMA report which was published in June, also highlighted that SVT tariffs are usually the most expensive, and collectively, consumers are overspending on energy by £1.4 billion per year.

Which? has called on suppliers to show how they are engaging with their SVT customers stuck on expensive deals – launching a campaign which challenges energy companies to publish plans for engaging with these customers by 31 January 2017.  

The ‘Fair Energy Prices’ campaign will be publishing a scorecard to track the responses, and Which? says that the government and regulator must be ready to act if companies fail to deliver on these plans.

Which? managing director of home and legal services Alex Neill said: “This is the last chance saloon for the energy industry. After a two-year inquiry, the energy companies now must prove they are taking action to genuinely engage with their customers stuck on the worst deals. The government and the regulator must be ready to act if energy companies fail to deliver.”

The consumer group also says that 86 per cent of people said they think it is an energy company’s responsibility to help customers better understand their energy usage. 89 per cent also say it is the supplier’s responsibility to make sure they adequately understand their bill.

Ofgem commented on the campaign: “Ofgem is working to implement the CMA’s remedies as quickly and effectively as possible as part of our wider reforms to deliver a fairer, more competitive and smarter energy market.

“We want suppliers to engage more actively with customers, particularly those on standard variable tariffs, to help them get a better deal. This month for example we began a consultation on requiring suppliers to take part in trials to test the most effective ways of doing this.”