Customers confused by energy tariffsSituation 'unacceptable' says Which?

07 May 2009

A couple looking at some bills

An informal agreement may be a good starting point

Households looking to cut back on their gas and electricity costs are not being helped by a staggering number of tariffs to choose from.

According to a new report by Which?, there are over 4,000 different deals available to gas and electricity customers in Britain. Unsurprisingly, seven in ten people surveyed said they found the sheer number of tariffs confusing.


Calling the government and regulator, Ofgem, to put pressure on energy suppliers to simply their tariff ranges, Which? said that complex tariff structures made it very difficult for consumers to understand what type of deal they were on and how to reduce energy use and costs.

The report said that this situation was unacceptable at a time of high energy prices and increasing numbers in fuel poverty, with the country facing the need to fight climate change and the prospect of energy shortages in the future.

Bills attacked

Which? also attacked gas and electricity bills for being complicated and confusing not providing customers with the facts they need to understand their energy use and costs. Better bills, the report said, would help people make more informed choices about energy use in the future and which supplier to choose.

Spoilt by choice

Which energy campaigner, Dr Fiona Cochrane said: ‘With 4,000 energy tariffs available, consumers are being spoilt by choice. How is anyone meant to understand which tariff is best for them? It’s time for suppliers, Ofgem and the Government to make bills and tariffs more transparent. Helping consumers cut their energy usage will contribute to more affordable bills and lower carbon emissions.

Ofgem should use its Energy Supply Probe to deliver on its first priority to “protect consumers” and we look forward to seeing them step up to the mark.’

Taking advantage

In support of the Which? report, Liberal Democrat Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Simon Hughes MP, said that gas and electricity companies had been ‘taking advantage of their customers for far too long’.

‘Many people have seen their fuel bills rocket upwards again and again in recent years. Just as bad, the bills themselves are complex and confusing,’ Mr Hughes said.

‘Suppliers must make their bills simple and clear so that people can see exactly what they are paying for and what their options are.’

MP action

Which? is encouraging people to write to their MP and tell them what they think about their energy bills and tariffs. To give us your views and experiences of energy bill frustrations also visit

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