Energy market 'breakdown of trust'



Half of consumers do not trust energy suppliers, citing poor value for money and a lack of transparency, according to a survey.

The poll for comparison website found 50% did not trust suppliers and 45% trusted them less than they did two years ago.

Of those who distrusted their supplier, almost half (48%) cited poor value for money and 37% dblame a lack of openness or transparency.

A quarter (25%) said they did not receive easy-to-understand bills information and 12% said suppliers made communication difficult.

A third of those who did not trust their supplier (33%) said it was because they did not try to help customers reduce their bills. Those who did trust their supplier (40%) cited straightforward bills and information (49%), good customer service (43%), ease of communication (39%) and helpfulness (36%).

But more than half of billpayers (52%) have had contact with their energy supplier, besides receiving a bill, within the last six months and more than three-quarters (79%) were satisfied with the last contact they had.

And almost a fifth (19%) thought their energy supplier had demonstrated that they wanted their custom, while 13% said their bills were clearer and easier to understand. director of consumer policy Ann Robinson said: "The breakdown in trust between consumers and energy suppliers is symptomatic of a far deeper malaise. The simple fact is that this market is not working for consumers, which is why it's now critical that Ofgem gets the prescription right and sets it firmly on the road to recovery.

"In a healthy market, competition forces prices down and innovation and service up. Consumers feel empowered to vote with their feet and this in turn helps to keep companies on their toes. This isn't happening in the energy market, and it's no coincidence that just four in 10 consumers trust suppliers at the same time as switching is at an all-time low. If we are to see this market succeed then Ofgem has got to turn this low-level of engagement around - this is the yardstick by which the success of its reforms should be measured.

"In the meanwhile, the good news for consumers is that suppliers do seem intent on pulling up their socks. But if you are unhappy with the progress being made, let your supplier know."

© 2013 Press Association