Energy suppliers will be forced by the regulator to take part in trials, which will start this summer, to find out the best ways of helping disengaged customers to get a better deal.
Ofgem says these trials will examine issues including:
- Suppliers telling customers what the cheapest deals are across the whole market.
- Changing the name of standard tariffs, for example, to ‘out of contract’ tariffs.
- Different ways of presenting information on household bills.
- Changes to information that customers receive once they come to the end of a fixed deal.
The trials are one of the initiatives put forward by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) following its energy market investigation last year, which found that two-thirds of customers who are on standard variable tariffs are paying far more – often hundreds more each year - than they need to.
Ofgem adds that several suppliers are already carrying out trials voluntarily.
Rachel Fletcher, senior partner, consumers and competition says: “We must end the two- tier market where only a third of people get the best deals, while the remainder do not benefit from competition.
“By overseeing these trials, we will make sure that suppliers are doing everything they can to test ways to help these customers find better deals. This could be through switching supplier, or helping loyal customers find cheaper tariffs with the current supplier.”
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at comparison website uSwitch adds: “All too often, loyal energy customers are left languishing on expensive standard variable tariffs, collectively overpaying by a staggering £3.6 billion per year, when compared to the cheapest deal available on the market. These trials are a good starting point to encourage more households to seek a better deal.”