'Smallprint pointer' to avoid 33% hike in business energy bills
Make It Cheaper has published an online tool to pinpoint key contract information on business energy bills
Since April, all business energy suppliers have been required by Ofgem to display key date information on bills in a bid to reduce the number of businesses who miss their renewal window and become involuntarily rolled into new 12-month contracts. Rollover prices are on average 33% higher than negotiated renewal prices, according to Ofgem figures.*
However, each supplier has chosen a different location on the bill and a range of descriptions to display its key dates, with no two versions the same and notice periods closing up to 90 days before contracts end. To add further confusion, some suppliers have volunteered to stop automatically renewing contracts but the gradual phasing-out of this means that over half of businesses are still vulnerable to 'being rolled'.
Jonathan Elliott, founder and CEO of Make It Cheaper, explains:
"The whole renewal process is in a mess, with suppliers being the only ones to benefit from a complete lack of understanding outside of the industry. Without knowing key dates, businesses are blindfolded when it comes to buying energy and, having been instrumental in getting these included on bills, we were naturally keen to see how the suppliers responded. Our new tool speaks volumes about how much work there is still to do."
As well as creating its tool, Make It Cheaper, which arranges 50,000 small business energy contracts a year, has scored the twelve suppliers on how well they present contract information in their new bill formats across the following six categories:
- Position of key contract information on the bill.
- Time taken to locate information when prompted.
- General appearance (text size, colour, boldness etc).
- Clarity of wording used to describe its relevance.
- Proximity of notice period to the contract end date.
- Whether 12-month automatic renewals still apply.
Its study has revealed that Ofgem's new rules have not been followed to the letter in every case, with some notice periods missing and most customers still left guessing how to terminate their contract or what will happen to their bills if they fail to do so. The resulting 'Transparency Table' shows new market entrant - Ovo Energy - leading the traditional 'Big 6' suppliers:
- ENDS -
- David Russell at The David Russell Hair Group in Paisley: "I find the energy companies a nightmare to deal with. The getting out of contracts to move to other companies should not be so hard. Make It Cheaper helps me with this game of chess."
- Debbie Jones at T2 Dental in Plymouth: "It's so helpful that Make It Cheaper contact me when a contract is due for review, so I don't need to remember."
- Steve Swire at The Bishop Wilton Village Hall & Playing Fields Association: "The service has proven itself to be reliable at flagging up the opening of contract renewal windows...reducing deadline pressure for me."
- Cheryl Needham at Orbital Recruitment in Derby: "I've now used Make It Cheaper for the past three years. I am contacted when a contract is about to end and I am confident that the best deal is then put before me. Were it not for that, we'd probably have just continued using the same provider."
About Make It Cheaper: Based in Central London with 140 staff, Make It Cheaper has been the No.1 destination for businesses to get a better deal on their utilities since it launched in 2007. Following its acquisition of www.UKPower.co.uk in 2012, Make It Cheaper also provides competitive energy prices and expert advice for households - online and via a freephone service. Its supplier panel includes all of the Big 6 and 25 of the smaller domestic and non-domestic energy companies. For businesses and charities it also offers savings across other overheads including: telecoms, insurance and merchant services. The company has appeared in the Fast Track 100 for the past three years and, in 2013, it won the titles of 'SME Consumer Champion' & 'SME Most Trusted' at the Energy Live Consultancy Awards (titles for which it has been shortlisted again this year). Its 2014 'Net Promoter Score', based on 2,487 customer satisfaction questionnaires completed year-to-date, is 67.
Further information: Nick Heath 020 7654 0730 / firstname.lastname@example.org