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Now is the time for energy firms to regain consumer trust, say experts

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11/06/2014
Energy suppliers should use the latest attack by the regulator to regain customers’ trust, according to industry experts.

On Tuesday, Ofgem wrote to the ‘big six’ suppliers – which combined provide gas and electricity to over 50 million homes – asking why household bills had not fallen despite cheaper wholesale energy prices.

Forward prices for next winter are 16 per cent lower for gas and 9 per cent lower for electricity compared with last winter, partly due to the mild winter weather, the regulator said.

With trust in energy firms at an all-time low, Jeremy Cryer from Gocompare.com Energy, believes now is the time for them to prove their commitment to consumers.

“Huge fines have been levied on several [suppliers] for malpractice, the regulator has also said it is considering referring the industry to the Competition and Markets Authority to find out why competition isn’t working for consumers,” he said.

“So now’s the time for the big energy companies to prove how committed they are to their customers by either passing on the savings that they are making, or explaining why bills won’t be falling.”

Clare Francis, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket.com, said energy companies should end the ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach to pricing.

“In the past, energy firms have given rising costs as a reason for the increase domestic energy bills, but when it comes to wholesale prices falling they are quick to defend themselves for not passing on the reduction.

“There is little wonder there is so little trust in the energy market. The ‘big six’ need to play fair and end this ‘smoke and mirrors’ approach to pricing and help struggling customers at a time when energy bills make up a significant proportion of overall household expenditure.”

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, concluded: “Rather than long-winded explanations on why prices are so high, what consumers really need to see is a reduction to their energy bills. Actions speak louder than words.”

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