It will soon be easier for households that have to heat their homes with liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to cancel their contracts and switch suppliers.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has secured a voluntary agreement from the major LPG suppliers to improve their contracts with domestic customers.
The changes should make it easier for consumers to cancel or switch suppliers, and make any exit fees that apply clearer.
Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron said: ‘Whilst we welcome the fact that the OFT has followed-up on its investigation into the off-grid market, we will have to wait and see the extent to which these voluntary changes will improve things for LPG customers.
‘Which? members who are not connected to the gas grid have told us that they sometimes feel unfairly treated compared to gas customers and end up paying more for their heating’.
Around 150,000 people in the UK heat their homes with LPG. Which? is concerned that that these off-grid customers weren’t left with much reassurance after an investigation by the OFT last year concluded that competition in the heating oil and LPG market works well, and that the off-grid energy market does not need price regulation.
This was despite the fact that the average price of heating oil soared by more than 70% in just three months, between September and December 2010.
Changes to contracts
In its last investigation the OFT found that some suppliers were not treating their customers fairly. This is something that has been echoed by several Which? members.
The main issue the OFT found was that some customers were locked into LPG contracts which meant that they could not escape price increases and change supplier.
The OFT has worked with major UK LPG suppliers to improve their contracts and as a result Avanti Gas Limited, BP Gas, Calor Gas Limited and its sister company Calor Gas Northern Ireland, and Flogas UK Limited and its sister company DCC Energy Limited (trading as Flogas Northern Ireland) have all agreed to make changes.
To see the full details of the changes under the OFT voluntary agreement, go to the OFT LPG investigation page.