For the third year in a row, consumers have voted energy bills as the most confusing bills they receive, despite Ofgem’s reforms aimed at simplifying the format.
More than half (53%) of those who took part in a uSwitch survey said they had not seen an improvement in energy bills since Ofgem’s reforms. However, almost a third (30%) said energy bills were now easier to understand.
The news suggests that although some progress has been made, there remains room for significant improvement.
Six months ago, Ofgem introduced a number of changes aimed at making the energy market easier for customers to understand. Part of these rules focused on making energy bills clearer and more transparent.
Changes included adding a personal projection (an estimate of what their energy tariff will cost over the course a year) as well as listing any cheaper plans on offer by their energy supplier.
However, these changes have not had the impact Ofgem was hoping to for and just 30% of consumers claim their bills are easier to read following the changes. An additional 51% had not noticed anything on their bill highlighting cheaper energy plans on offer by their supplier.
‘Majority are still having difficulties getting to grips with [energy bills]’
Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch, Ann Robinson said: “It’s hugely disappointing to see energy suppliers once again ranked as the worst offenders for sending out confusing bills, particularly as most of us have by now received a new-look bill to deal with this very problem.
“While it’s encouraging that a third of consumers say their bills are easier to understand, the majority are still having difficulties getting to grips with them. The findings clearly show that Ofgem must look again at the effectiveness of their reforms, and work with consumers and suppliers to produce a bill format they can understand.”
According to Robinson it is particularly important that customers are able to decipher the information of their energy bills given high energy prices. “We need to give consumers a reason to engage with the market, and helping them to understand their bills is the first step,” she added.
SSE: ‘Alphabet soup of regulations’
Speaking on the research Group Managing Director, Retail at SSE Will Morris said: “There is an alphabet soup of regulations stipulating what goes on an energy bill; it’s time to rip it up and start again because despite everyone’s best intentions we’re just confusing customers.
“Over two thirds of people told us in a recent YouGov poll that they wanted simpler information on their bill – let’s give customers what they want.”