Utilities Need to be More Clear to Consumers

Author: Spencer Ogden
Date posted08/Feb/2012
Author: Spencer Ogden

New research commissioned by the Office of the Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) as part the Consumers First Panel, found that consumers want clearer, easy to understand energy information from utilities.

The Consumer First Panel took part several workshops hosted by Ipsos MORI. The panel stressed the need for standardized and easily understood language on pricing and energy use information. Many also want limited tariffs to make price comparisons easier. Energy suppliers also need to make more of an effort to establish better relationships with their customers.
Senior Partner for Markets Andrew Wright says the research “is a further call to action for energy suppliers to back Ofgem’s reforms to deliver the simplicity that consumers repeatedly say they want. It is vital consumers can understand the information they receive from energy suppliers so they can choose the right deal for them.”

Ofgem reports it is “currently consulting on proposals for a simpler, clearer more competitive energy market…to improve transparency through simpler tariffs, new rules to improve and standardize information energy suppliers send customers in bills, annual energy statements and price increase notification letters and also tougher standards of conduct on suppliers.”
Under Ofgem’s reforms, consumers could choose either standard tariffs with a fixed rate set by Ofgem or non-standard tariffs which would be entirely set by suppliers.

Ofgem’s Consumer First Panel is comprised of around 100 consumers recruited across England, Scotland and Wales, chosen to be broadly representative of consumers.

According to Ofgem the Consumer First panelists was intended to promote understanding. “This work builds on findings from previous panels, and Ofgem’s own work in designing improved channels of communication that could be tested among panelists.”
Ofgem is the regulator of the gas and electricity industries in Great Britain. For the full report Ofgem Consumer First Panel Year 4, visit http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Sustainability/Cp/CF/Pages/CF.aspx