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Energy customers to get price hike warnings

Suppliers to give 30 days notice of price rises

Following a year-long Which? campaign, Ofgem has announced that energy suppliers will soon be made to give their customers advance warning of energy price rises.

Energy suppliers don’t currently have to inform customers of price rises until up to 65 days after changing the tariff. Over the last year Which? has repeatedly called for advance warnings to become mandatory and today energy regulator Ofgem has declared that it will change the rules so that customers get 30 days notice.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘This is a long overdue victory for consumers and leaves energy suppliers under no illusions that the game is up for telling customers about price hikes after they’ve happened.

‘Warning consumers in advance will give them the chance to look at alternative tariffs and switch suppliers before price increases start to hit them in the pocket.’

When will the rules change?

The new rules won’t come in to force immediately. Ofgem is required to consult on these proposals before energy suppliers’ licences can be modified, and the proposals can be blocked if the majority of energy suppliers object.

However, Ofgem has warned that if this happens it has the power to refer these companies to the Competition Commission.

This follows an announcement last week by secretary of state for energy Chris Huhne, who said that if energy suppliers tried to block these changes, he would use his powers to force them through.

A better deal for consumers

There’s still plenty of work to be done with energy bills, in order to make sure people are getting a good deal, and Which? will continue to campaign on behalf of consumers.

Peter Vicary-Smith added: ‘The Government can go further by using the upcoming Energy Bill to introduce mandatory minimum standards for tariffs so that consumers can be confident that they are getting the best deal for their energy.’

The minimum standards that Which? would like to see introduced for energy tariffs include no hidden charges, itemised summary boxes on bills, price guarantees and new version guarantees. For more information on these, check out our energy campaigns page, or to see how much money you could save by switching energy tariffs, visit Which? Switch.

Want to have your say on this issue? Join in the debate at Which? conversation

Lower your gas and electricity bills

You can compare energy prices and switch to a new gas and electricity supplier on Which? Switch. People who switched with us between 1 October and 31 December 2013 are predicted to save an average of £234 a year on their bills.

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