Consumer Focus is today announcing updates to its Confidence Code and encouraging consumers to shop around for the best energy deal on switching sites accredited by the improved scheme.
With customers concerned about recent price rises in a cold winter, and with an increasing array of complex tariffs on the market, it has never been more important that customers can switch to a better deal. Yet around a third of all consumers who switch sign-up to a worse deal, with a staggering half of those who switch on the doorstep worse-off after switching.1 The Confidence Code will help more consumers to switch to a better deal.
Online price comparison sites have transformed the ability of consumers to search the energy market in their own time and without sales pressure from any particular supplier – making it easier to get the best deal. Consumer Focus is encouraging energy customers to shop around with confidence on a switching site accredited by the watchdog’s Confidence Code.
The Confidence Code is used to accredit energy price comparison websites to give consumers greater confidence in switching energy supplier. Consumer Focus is improving the code in response to changes in tariffs and terms and conditions in the ever-changing energy market, to make sure that consumers can get the most accurate and reliable information to help them shop around for the best deal.2
Over 100,000 people switch energy supplier or tariff each week. Shopping around to make sure you’re on the cheapest payment method and getting the best deal for your energy can save much needed extra pounds, as prices can vary by up to £200 per year.
Updates to be made to the Confidence Code accreditation system include:
- Sites will be required to improve information on limited term discounts and tariffs to help customers weigh-up whether these deals will benefit them.
- Sites will have to give a warning message if the end date of a supplier’s tariff is within two months of the length of the comparison period.
- The code will ensure a wide range of green and environmental gas and electricity deals are included on these sites. Electricity tariffs that are accredited by the Green Energy Supply Certification Scheme will be clearly marked.
- Energy price comparison sites are required to display all available tariffs which fit the consumer’s requirements. Sites will now also be able to display an initial results page of tariffs so that customers can clearly and quickly see which tariffs they can directly switch to through the site.
Audrey Gallacher, Head of Energy at Consumer Focus, said:
‘The Consumer Focus Confidence Code exists to make sure that consumers get the information they need from price comparison websites to make informed decisions about switching energy supplier. This is particularly important now as people start to think about their energy bills in the colder weather and with recent price rises.
‘Online price comparisons have been a tremendous innovation allowing consumers to compare deals in their own time and without pressure. However price comparison sites, and our code, have to reflect changes to the market to make sure consumers continue to benefit. These changes make sure that consumers have a reliable and accurate set of switching sites which they can use confidently to shop around for the best deal.’
Confidence Code accredited energy price comparison sites will be expected to make the changes required over the next month, with changes to be completed by 10 Jan 2011.
Notes to editors:
- A full version of the revised Consumer Focus Confidence Code can be found at www.consumerfocus.org.uk
- In 2008 Ofgem’s probe into the energy market reported that around a third of consumers failed to switch to a better deal. According to the probe 48% of gas customers and 42% of electricity customers were worse off after switching supplier on the doorstep.
- The energy market has seen an increase in the proliferation and complexity of tariffs available. Changes include: increases in the number of limited duration tariffs, one-off sign-up fees and increasing numbers of customers on fixed-rate or online deals.
There are 12 Consumer Focus Confidence Code accredited sites, nine of which also have a telephone service:
- BeatthatQuote.com: 0845 652 1546
- Energy Helpline: 0800 074 0745
- Energylinx: 0800 849 7077
- Moneysupermarket.com: 0845 345 1296
- Simply switch: 08000 111 395
- TheEnergyshop.com: 0845 330 7247
- UK Power: 0800 093 2447
- Uswitch: 0800 404 7908
- Which? Switch: 01992 822 867
Links are available on the Consumer Focus Confidence Code webpage.