Energy customers paying the price for loyalty

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Millions of British householders are paying for their loyalty to energy firms, a new study has revealed. A report published yesterday by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) showed that those consumers who stick with their tariff or supplier are being overcharged hundreds of pounds each year by the 'Big Six'.

Failure to switch to the most economical tariffs or change supplier means customers are missing out on possible savings of between £158 and £234 a year, and according to the CMA, 95 per cent of dual fuel customers would be better off if they made the switch.

Though energy firms insist they are passing on the recent drop in gas prices to customers, critics say they are not doing enough to alert consumers to cheaper tariffs on offer. And the CMA found that between 2011 and 2014, the major UK suppliers received 12 per cent more per unit on electricity and 13 per cent for gas from those on standard variable tariffs.

The CMA's updated statement on its investigation into the Big Six also revealed that customers considered switching "a hassle", and many believe there are "no real differences between suppliers" or that switching will cause problems. Those who tended to stick with the more expensive tariffs were typically those that were less well educated, on lower incomes, and/or over the age of 65.

Overall, half of the Brits surveyed said they had never switched, and a third admitted they had never considered it or thought it was impossible to do so.

The investigation is now set to focus on identifying the "barriers to switching", ahead of its final report due later this year.

What do you think? Should the Big Six be doing more to alert consumers to cheaper tariffs? Leave your comments below...
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