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Tell us what YOU think about the gas and electricity industry

Have your say!

Ofgem is currently running a consultation into how the energy market can be changed to make it work more better for consumers, so we’ve launched a survey to find out what you think.

So, whatever you think about the energy market and price comparison sites, please fill in the survey on our website and we’ll share your responses with Ofgem. Don’t forget to get your family and friends involved too – we want to makes sure as many voices as possible are heard.

Finally, feel free to leave a comment below telling us what you think about the energy market and your ideas for how it could be improved…should the there be more tariffs or less? Should the whole industry be renationalised? What do you think would make more people switch their gas and electricity?

  • Ian Stirling

    The current pricing structure of suppliers is confusing, and discourages energy saving.
    Responding to ‘customer demand’ – energy companies removed the standing charge.

    But they diddn’t!
    They just made it lots more confusing to find!
    All suppliers now charge a standing charge that you find on your bill by the convenient method of subtracting the ‘main rate’ from the ‘initial rate’, and multiplying by the number of units.

    It’s still a standing charge, and means that the lowest using customers are discouraged from saving energy, as they end up with much more of their power at the higher rate.

    If this complexity was removed, the standing charge truly abolished, then tarrifs would be much simpler.

    You would have a gas and electricity bill with only two prices per bill, not four!
    It would be much easier to understand.
    It would be more easily directly comparable with other suppliers, as you would not have to first work out if the ‘standing charge’ made a difference.
    It would encourage energy saving by not making those using the least pay the most!

    • Ian Sharp

      I agree wholeheartedly with this especially the point that the first units consumed are the most expensive. Surely people who choose to have outside heaters should pay more for this luxury and not pensioners who are sometimes afraid to have any heating on in their home.

  • Pepworth

    Things might be better if OFGEM themselves weren’t corrupt.

  • Alan Prior

    I have never understood why there is a standing charge, especially with the high rate on most gas tariffs. Or is this to pay for all the gas main replacements?

    A straight forward price per kwh is the best. The more you use the more you pay towards the suppliers fixed costs.

    A comparison between suppliers would then be a lot easier.
    This would also encourage customers to be energy efficient.

  • Tom Shipman

    Encourage energy suppliers to reduce the number of tariffs so that reasonabley priced energy is available to the majority.
    Encourage them to stop the tiered tariffs that reward high energy users at the expense of the thrifty.
    FORCE them to pass on falls in energy prices as quickly as they pass on increases.

  • DW

    Why does OFGEM not cover LPG?

    • BP

      I very much agree they should cover LPG and Oil as well – We have to put up with exceptionally higher prices through necessity not choice and LPG suppliers are offering a energy supply all be it gas alone but to use electric alone costs a lot as we cannot use dual fuel tarrifs therefore not get the cheaper deals etc

      • sweeks

        there was an episode of ‘dominic littlewood’s consumer programme on precisely this topic this week- a village in devon had realised that their local lpg supplier(who had a monopoly, incidentally) was actually charging completely different rates to different households apparently arbitrarily- they eventually dropped the prices in that village, but only on the understanding that those rates would not be broadcast nationally! presumably as they’re doig the same everywhere else and will until they’re challenged in that small place….

  • Mr p.pizza

    The energy companies all behave like the mafia they get you to go into a contract that you can”t refuse then raise their prices whenever they feel like it.The poor people that are afraid of putting the heating on around the country is frankly disgusting.and they are strangling the economic recovery,their excuse is now libya before it was iraq!!!! lies lies lies.

    • Ken Baker

      Hurrah! Well said that Man!

  • Deborah Hall

    Stop charging those that can least afford it ; who are on meters, paying more than those that receive bills. This is robbing the poor and I think is immoral. We all need energy as a basic living standard in our homes it is not a luxury.

    I have received a recent bill from EON they are now giving time limits of when you have to notify them if you want to change. I have never had to inform any company I am leaving their supply. They are just making it harder for people to leave.

    • Anonymous

      you are right, they have total domination on the street markets, if you are naive they will capitalise on that and the next year they will up their prices as you do not have any choice

  • Gerry Keenan

    Surely if a comparison website is flogging you a better online deal with a new supplier to “Save” you money they must be aware the new supplier is about to bump up their prices a week later and wipe out any “Savings” or are they just complicate with ripping of the consumer at any cost. Surely this is Mis – selling

    • Lauren Pope

      Hi Gerry,

      I can assure you that this isn’t what we do! We don’t know about price rises ahead of time – we find out about them when the energy companies put out their press releases, just like everyone else!

      We’re also regulated by Consumer Focus, which is there to make sure that price comparison sites don’t get involved in these kind of underhand practices or misselling.

      Lauren.

      • Richard Starling

        Yeah, we trust you, but can’t the suppliers use your audience as a portal for manipulating price increases & justifying them?

  • John Gascoigne

    The electricity/gas market is too complicated making choice for pensioners difficult. Each supply company have many different types of account making dozens of choices available overall. I particulary dislike the accounts that lock the consumer in for a period while they adjust their prices to suit themselves. This is unfair.
    I also dislike the fact that prices vary from region to region. Why should people pay according to where they live? This is not fair.
    Internet comparision sites are useful but not every one are able to make use of them. Again this is not fair.
    I think the regulator needs to be more active in making the pricing systems more simple for every one.

  • Bri glasgow

    Standing charges and the practice of charging the first units used at different rates only serve to muddy the waters and keep the confusion as to what the real costs will be. Energy is now so expensive and so many consumers are suffering from having to make the choice of being cold or hungry that the companies do contribute to the ill health and even deaths of some customers. They could alter this easily by being more open and adopting a more caring attitude they will still make massive profits. Maybe just not quite so massive

  • Soupdragn

    This survey is rubbish you cannot put ticks in the relevant boxes to most of the answers, It needs sorting out PDQ.

    • Lauren Pope

      Thanks for letting us know – we’ll look into this. Could you perhaps try it in a different browser?

  • JDZ

    Why do energy suppliers increase their tariffs when there has been a period of good weather and the demant for electricity and gas has gone down?? This needs investigating.

    • Richard Starling

      Is it correct to say that a major-factor in the price equation is the influence of commodity-traders?

  • grizzly 1911

    Agree with all posts thus far.

    We need simplification.

    We need free and open competition.

    We need to be easily compare like with like. Suppliers should be forced to use a comparison framework set by the regulator.
    There should be one standard tariff for fixed and one for variable per supplier.
    There should be no lock ins for a variable tariff.
    There should be an exit penalty only, no cancellation/increase/reduction of discount of tariff rate
    for fixed options.
    Exit penalties should only apply if you switch suppliers in term.
    Remove the standing charge completely -i.e. one rate per tariff
    There should be no extra cost whether you settle quarterly DDR/Direct Payment or by monthly DDR. (By all means apply industry agreed/regulated penalties for persistent late payers)
    Commision paid to the switching/comparison sites should be displayed/quoted.
    Easily understood Old Age package – that is for old people at real discount to other tariffs.

    Don’t forget we the consumer pay for all the smoke and mirrors that the suppliers put up. We pay for the marketing, the complex modelling of tariffs, switching site commissions etc that achieve nothing for the consumer.

    The best management teams managing the supply costs should be the most rewarded by offering a fair price, customer retention and supplier of choice. If service is poor or prices drift from a fair median due to poor or greedy management so be it.

    Is not like you can get better quality /nicer gas or electric is it.

  • gerry goldner

    Suppliers should provide free phone numbers to their customers. When you need to talk to customer service why should you pay them to take ages in answering your call. If the supplier was paying for the cost of the call maybe their answering time might reduce

  • WILLIE C

    ITS ALRIGHT ASKING PEOPLE TO SWITCH SO WHEN I WENT FROM EDF TO SCOTTISH POWER I HAD TO PAY A £50 PENALTY FOR GAS AND £50 FOR LECKY £100 POUND FOR LEAVING EDF ,AND AFTER BEING PROMISED I WOULD BE CHEAPER WITH SCOTTISH POWER I SOON REALISED I WAS CONNED BY SALESMAN ,IT WAS THE DEAREST DUAL FUEL I HAVE EVER PAID + STANDING CHARGES
    SO I WENT BACK TO EDF ,THEN SCOTTISH POWER CHARGE ME £100 PENALTY FOR LEAVING THEM ,HOW THEY GET AWAY WITH THIS I DO NOT KNOW, THEY HAVE YOU BY THE SHORT AND CURLIES . A BUNCH OF COWBOYS THE LOT OF THEM

    • Richard Starling

      I’d say that was theft Willie…………………report it to Ofgem!!!!

      • sweeks

        I had the same experience with british gas- I was actually in credit by a large amount, they should have been paying ME, but after the switch I got about a sixth of what they owed me back, because they charged a ‘cancellation fee’ or somesuch nonsense

  • peter hicks

    best off luck you have a up hill trip to go i dont think it will help

  • robin biles

    I cannot believe that because the current high price of energy to consumers has forced them to use much less, even during the incredibly cold winter, the energy companies are planning price increases to compensate them for the reduced usage and maintain the dividend it pays to shareholders!!!!!!!!. Logically this would suggest that ordinary consumers will eventually not be able to afford to use energy at all and the entire burden of maintaining dividends will fall on the shoulders of industry. What the hell are they thinking of!! I was born in an age when the stock market used to go up by maybe a point on the day and price increases were usually of the order of 1% or 2% not anything up to 25%. The whole world has gone mad since privatisation and no one seems able to control it.

  • G M Reid

    Privatisation has completely ruined this market and needs to be taken back into Government control. The head of that department should be brought in from the Gas & Electric industry & held publicly responsible for its workings.

  • Tony

    Frankly privatisation of gas and electricity has achieved absolutely nothing.

    The switching by consumers has to be paid for and usually it is those who can least afford it pay for it.

  • grizzly1911

    Robin,

    Welcome to unfettered Capitalism.

    I have been barking on about this for sometime SWMBO is looking for the off switch.

    Whilst there are inefficiencies in Public Services once they are privatised those inefficiencies are taken out and paid to shareholders. In the short term there may be benefit passed back until a market is cornered then it is one way traffic.

    Lets look at NHS v Private

    In the hospital example I have seen all the different companies providing the services layering up. From Garden Maintenance Contractor, The Catering Supplier, The Cleaning Contratcor, The clinical staff who were billed for, including two paracetomol and a dressing. At each layer a profit needs to be made. The costs of inefficiency , IMO just transfer into profit.

    Obviously some of that profit gets reinvested and in an ideal world due tax would be paid keeping things in balance. Whilst I don’t dispute that a tax is paid I am sure it is massaged to the lowest level they can get away with. In power as in oil they can pass items backward and forwards from wholesale to retail to prove whatever they want.

    I have no issue with this for luxuries, that we can choose whether we buy them or not. We may have different views on what may be a luxury for instance I would be happy to see air travel and aviation fuel taxed till the pips squeak – OK I would give freight a break maybe.

    I am not comfortable when it comes to commodities like power and water – just a good job they can’t charge us for the air we breathe – yet…….

    By the way what industry and who pays for the products;-/

  • grizzly1911

    Another point that I do not know the answer to in which country is the tax paid in?

  • Michael Bierman

    List standard procedures for changing supplier

  • Ian Stirling

    On an unrelated matter to the confusing billing – I find it especially annoying that the least well-off are paying the most to subsidise solar panels.

    I can obtain quality solar panels, from a non-approved supplier, and fit them for approximately a quarter of the price of a ‘proper’ installation.

    The regulation on the solar-electric industry should be limited to providing approved meters.
    All smart meters must be able to run ‘backwards’ – and account for solar power through a seperate connection.

    The rates of return should normally be no more or less than the price of electricity charged.

    It is up to the consumer what form of renewable energy source they connect to the meter.

    Unfortunately, the ‘solar industry’ would fight tooth-and-nail against a system that does not have the effect of penalising the poor to pay for the solar panels of the rich.

  • Graham

    What is DTV?

    What is the point of a BLOG

    What does the acronym BLOG stand for

    • Lauren Pope

      Hi,

      DTV stands for Digital TV amd blog is short for ‘weblog’.

      Thanks

      Lauren

  • Graham

    I mhave already done a comment

  • Graham

    This site is a waste of space

    Why does it keep asking for a comment

    I HAVE ALREADY DONE IT

    • Lauren Pope

      Hi again,

      The delay is posting your comment is because we have to check all comments for anything unsuitable (swearing etc) before we publish them. Your comments have all been received and published.

      Lauren

  • michael wilson

    My grouse is not with the billing company, but with the monolithic electricity producer C.E.B. who despite taking them through all three stages of procedure over a power cut and re-connection surge a year ago, will NEVER admit to or even acknowledge that reconnection surges exist. I was finally sent a £25 cheque as a ‘sweetener’! The energy ombudsman office was totally useless – ‘unable to assist in this case’. My MP is not interested. I finally went back to my house contents insurer, who’d been kept in the picture and received some £150 after over £500 of household equipment had been rendered useless by the reconnection surge.
    Our insurers remind us every year of re-connection surges, but the C.E.B. stubbornly refuse to face this issue. Surely something can be done about this issue? Action this day please!!

  • Ken Baker

    Why was nothing done about all the billions in waste heat from Power Stations being blown into the seas, rivers and the atmosphere through cooling towers especially after all the jollies embarked upon by our(Labour) M.P.s to Scandinavia in the seventies.?

    • Ian Stirling

      Very simple.
      Let’s take my local power station of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longannet_power_station
      Take a look at the map – http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=56.048942,-3.682337 .

      There is plenty of heat – probably over three gigawatts.
      Enough to heat nearby Edinburgh.
      This would mean some truly massive pipes – around 40km of pipe – assuming the waste warm water was discharged into edinburgh drainage, and not returned.

      How much water?
      Around 18 tons a second.

      The pipe would need to be around 4m in diameter and 40km long – with a surface area of around half a million square meters.
      Assuming it’s covered to a depth of 50cm in good insulation, and starts out at 60C, it loses almost no temperature along the way.

      This pipe alone will cost some tens of millions to dig in.
      Probably another ten million to modify the power station.
      And then comes a project of public works that boggles the mind.
      On the up-side, you can roll out fibre to every house in edinburgh nearly free.
      On the downside, it’s because you’re digging up every single street, disrupting countless other services – like BT and the power company – who will not have the manpower to reinstate the services, and you’ll require external contractors.

      I would be truly astonished if such a project was possible for under ten billion pounds.

      Combined heat and power only works really well for small, newly constructed areas, constructed with the heat and power station locally.
      But this is not the way we build houses in the UK.

  • john sargant

    The way I see it is this:
    Prices go up
    people use less
    prices go up again to satisfy shareholders
    people pay more for less.

    Rip off!*!

    Simples!!

    WE ARE ALL ALLOWING THIS TO HAPPEN WITH NO PROTESTS. BRITISH PUBLIC ARE A JOKE.

  • mike

    comparison websites suggest that prices vary region by region as delivery costs are involved.

    how about realise the truck driver for the oil gets paid for 50+ hours a week whether he drives to skegness or cornwall. delivery costs are pretty much insignificant.

    electricity pilons have been around for decades sure with the decades of bills they receive electric companies have paid of the welders and steel costs of the 1970’s

    the occasional pilon replacement should also be insignificant if you add up the thousands of households that will be paything the bill over a 40 year average.

    lastly the switch energy adverts pfft, as if.
    i live alone in a small flat on a “budget key meter”.. luckiy my electric is 59p a day (£220 a year) reading promises to save me £100’s.. i will (being a straight guy) kiss anyman who could actually save me hundreds and bring my electric down to £20

  • mike

    the advert
    “turn your TV off at the mains to save electricity”

    yet look at the amount of electric used at the 02 arena, picadilly curcus. why ask home owners to save electric without receiving a reward/discount. and yet city centres are still allowed to stay on with their neon high glow.

    businesses, councils and governemts should get their night time security to switch everything off.

    basically lead by example. we are paying more so businesses can stay bright and operate 24/7. they get special discounts and tax deductions. we dont. electric is a business expense. why cant we atleast pay our bills before income tax?

    ok my rant is over with.. good day to all

  • mike

    whether we use more or lose less energy households will always lose out. by saving energy by using less energy companies will raise prices. by using the same amount energy companies will find excuses ssuch as fuel costs and inflation to increase prices.

    by using more in the hope that it would earn energy companies a bulk discount to pass onto households would never happen either.

    their is no way of winning. unless your a business or governemt and offer a energy company grants or discounts in exchange for utilities.

    i have seen retail corperations get discounted electricity in exchange for the utility company’s staff getting discount in the retail stores.

    governemt giving carbon offset grants to utility companies. the amount goverment has given these utility companies, UK should be a rainforest by now. a single tree does not cost much, but the amount they receive is huge.

    wouldnt it be great to get rid of the house of commons and replace it with a website every UK resident can access and vote, like a poll on what the government should do.

    the government meant to represent the people as in the olden days getting millions of people into a single building to vote on strategies was impossible. the internet is here now people can vote daily from home. we dont need representation, especially if they dont listen to us in the firstplace.

    2nd Rant over

  • colin

    Regulators are an expensive toothless waste iof space. By definition they should be directly responsive to customers but they are deliberately closed to the public. They are too busy cosying up to the energy suppliiers and furthering their own careers, as far as I can see.

  • Anonymous

    fred
    june27th 2011
    just had latest direct debit from scottish power taken out of my bank £15 more a month, even thou we are in the summer months, tryed to ring them they just keep cutting me off, i am on a 4year fixed tariff but am wondering if i done the right thing, there service is crap lately dont know what to do best fred.

    • Lauren Pope

      Hi Fred,

      Sounds like a bit of dilemma! Persist with phoning ScottishPower – when you talk to them about your Direct Debit you’ll be able to find out why they put it up and maybe even get them to put it back down if it’s not justified.

      If you decide to leave your tariff, you’ll have to pay a cancellation fee, so it might be worth sticking with them. A 4-year fixed deal could be a very wise choice too, given that it looks like energy prices are rising.

      Hope this helps.

      Lauren

  • john

    I am disgusted as a pensioner who has always done his best to conserve my use of fuel by all means possible, now the energy companies have shot everyone in the foot by bringing back these stupid STANDING CHARGES, so whereas before I could save up over summer to help me through the following winter, more like me will be looking forward to bleak 2013 cold winter with very little or nothing to fall back on, we should all revolt and show these profit hungry mongrels we are fed up of being the scapegoat for their fat cat directors.

  • scunnered

    I am disgusted with ofgem, thought they were on the side of the consumer. I am a low user of power and my bills have always been within reason, but NOW they’ve rocketed, thanks to standing charges introduced by this so called ofgem. Its bad enough that the fatcats are robbing us blind, and this useless government does nothing, i wonder how many of our MPs have interests in these energy companies, usual story rich getting richer of the backs of the working class.

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