Trust still a big issue when it comes to bills

More still needs to be done to improve trust between customers and their experience of energy bills. That was the upshot of yesterday’s debate on the future for energy regulation […]

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By Sumit Bose

More still needs to be done to improve trust between customers and their experience of energy bills.

That was the upshot of yesterday’s debate on the future for energy regulation hosted by Which? During a discussion involving energy suppliers First Utility and SSE, both agreed that more transparency and clearer bills would gain trust amongst their customers.

According to Ian McCaig, Chief Executive Officer of First Utility, 40% of households have never switched tariffs and more than half of households on those tariffs are paying amongst the highest rates. His point was backed by Ofgem’s Chief Executive, Dermot Nolan who was also on the panel.

Mr Nolan said many customers who didn’t switch were being unfairly penalised by the system: “For people who are more liable to switch, the bigger companies can reduce prices for them but for the 60% of  people on the standard variable tariffs – very few of the bigger companies have changed them at all. Because they feel that those people are not engaged anymore.”

Will Morris, Managing Director of Retail, SSE said rising energy bills “are still the number one concern” but added energy companies could not operate in a way that would lose money either.

Asked about the difference in cost between the Big Six energy companies, Ian McCaig, Chief Executive Officer of First Utility, one of the smaller suppliers now in the market said: “We’ve got an industry here where the default option is to have people on the worst product. They are not very good at offering that better product to their existing customers.”

Ofgem confirmed they will continue to try and understand how consumers use the energy market and enforce suppliers to listen to consumer needs to give better products.