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Energy market ‘Wild West’ returns

Citizens Advice and Octopus Energy caution that lifting the ban on acquisition-only tariffs could unfairly penalise loyal customers, particularly vulnerable groups

Citizens Advice and Octopus Energy have voiced their concerns regarding the potential removal of the ban on acquisition-only tariffs.

While acknowledging the benefits of fostering competition in the energy market, they argue that such a move could disadvantage loyal customers, particularly older and disabled consumers who may find it challenging to switch suppliers.

Gillian Cooper, Director of Energy at Citizens Advice said: “The ban on acquisition tariffs prevents suppliers from locking loyal customers out of their cheapest deals. Removing it would unfairly hit older and disabled consumers the hardest, as they are less likely to switch to a new supplier.

“It also protects millions of people with energy debt, whose suppliers can block them from switching, as it means they don’t have to stay on the most expensive tariffs pushing them even further into the red.

“Keeping the ban in place is a no-brainer. Ofgem must resist pressure to scrap it and ensure suppliers are proactively keeping customers up to date about their cheapest deals.”

Rachel Fletcher, Director of Economics and Regulation at Octopus Energy, commented: “Allowing suppliers to block their best deals from loyal customers would return the ‘Wild West’ of the energy industry.

“The loyalty penalty was a key reason 30 energy companies went bust, and ended up adding billions of pounds on to energy bills. Ofgem was right to ban these unsustainable Del Boy tactics and it would be crazy to bring them back now.

“Instead we need a more transparent, fairer market where suppliers are forced to compete based on innovation, customer service and efficiency. We need lower prices for everyone, not just the few.”

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