The findings of Ofgem’s latest investigation into the energy supply market showed that just one in five customers actively check to see if they can save money by switching supplier or moving onto a different tariff or payment method. This is despite that fact that customers can still save around £170 a year on average if they have never switched.*
Our investigation also showed that suppliers are bamboozling customers with the number of tariffs on offer – over 300 at the latest count. Ofgem has proposed reforms to reduce and dramatically and simplify the standard tariffs, and the way they are presented, to make it much easier for customers to compare deals.
While these reforms are being developed, we want to help empower consumers with straightforward information about energy choices, customer rights and how to get the most out of the deals that are on offer in the market today.
The campaign started in 2008 as a face-to-face help scheme through which advisers from Citizens Advice and other organisations give impartial advice on how to save money on household energy bills.
This has been targeted at customers on low incomes, managing tight household budgets, or in fuel poverty. More than 60,000 customers have benefitted from Energy Best Deal and today we are taking things a step further by launching the campaign on line in a bid to reach more people
The advice and help normally available through face-to-face sessions has been boiled down into six videos covering the most important things customers need to know about their energy supply; including how to switch supplier, and what to do if you get into debt on your bills.
Many suppliers provide special discounts and tariffs for low income and vulnerable consumers and the videos also help promote this. The videos also cover advice on how to be more energy efficient and one also focuses on what to look out for when dealing with door-step sales people.
The videos are available on http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Consumers/smebd/Pages/smebd.aspx. They will also be posted on the Citizens Advice section of You Tube. We are encouraging consumer groups and switching websites to feature them so they can reach as many customers as possible.
We anticipate that the videos will prove just as useful to customers as the face to face advice sessions. An independent evaluation in 2010 showed that 98 per cent of consumers who received face-to-face Energy Best Deal information found the sessions useful and more than a third went on to look into getting a better deal on their energy.
The campaign is just one example of what Ofgem is doing to make the energy market clearer for customers. In future we hope that our proposals for market reform and simplification will make a huge difference to customers allowing them to more readily choose the best deal for them.