Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Does your bill look a little bit different?
You may think that the only part of your bill that has changed in the last year is that the amount that you owe for electricity or gas. But, this is not so. Ofgem, the electricity and gas market regulator, has enforced some changes on suppliers to make your bill easier to understand. Also, you may also have found that the tariff you were on has changed! But, don’t worry this will only be for the better.
I have summarised the changes and what they mean for you:
From 26th August 2013:
A new code of conduct was introduced for suppliers of gas and electricity to treat customers “in a fair, honest, transparent, appropriate and professional manner in all dealings with them.”. To me this seems like basic business skills and as a consumer something that we should demand of all businesses, and not just because it has been dictated by the regulator!
Your bills should now be easier to understand. A feature that I saw change on my bill from Npower was the inclusion of a section trying to make it easier to understand what one unit of electricity was equivalent to e.g. powering a TV for eight hours. Remember if you are uncertain about anything on your bill, or don’t feel that your are being treated in a manner expected by these new regulations, you have the right to complain. In the first instance you should complain to you energy supplier and if this is not resolved in a satisfactory manner you have the right to complain to the Energy Ombudsman. The Energy Ombudsman is an independent, and free to use service, to resolve consumer issues with energy suppliers.
From 22nd October 2013:
Suppliers have been banned from increasing prices or other terms on fixed term deals. This seems like an obvious change to make. In addition, suppliers will only be able to have four tariffs available for both gas and electricity.
From end of March 2014:
A new comparison will be included on your bill to see if your supplier offers a cheaper tariff. This change shall also make it easier to compare between tariffs to find which is the best deal for you. A new Tariff Comparison Rate (TCR) is required in all communications with customers to provide “at a glance”information to help them compare tariffs. The TCR will be similar to the APR comparison rate used with credit cards.
From 30th June 2014:
Transfer all customers on existing, expensive ‘dead tariffs’(i.e. tariffs that are no longer marketed) onto their cheapest variable rate. A supplier will only be able to keep consumers on ‘dead tariffs’if they are cheaper, or as cheap, as the supplier’s lowest standard tariff.
It is hoped that these reforms over the past year will make it easier to both understand your bill and increase competition within the energy supply market. But, the key thing to remember here is that you must be proactive in this matter. Your supplier has the responsibility to tell you if they have a cheaper tariff, but you will not be told whether another provider has an even cheaper tariff. You could try using one of the many energy comparison sites (uSwitch, moneysupermarkey) on the internet to see if a cheaper tariff is available.
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GB Energy Supply ceases trading – Guide for customers
GB Energy Supply, one of the newest, and in the past cheapest energy suppliers, has ceased trading. 160,000 customers, have been attracted to the company over the past couple of years because of their market leading cheap energy prices (and I count myself as one of these). DO NOT PANIC! The company and Ofgem have […]Read more