Posted on 18 September 2013 by Tom Grimwood
A failure to engage customers emerged as the biggest problem facing the future energy retail market at seminar held by the World Energy Council yesterday.
Rachel Fletcher, Interim Senior Partner for Markets at Ofgem said: “Low engagement means suppliers do not face strong pressure to keep an attention on their prices, their costs, their products or their customer service.”
She suggested this customer apathy and a lack of trust was undermining faith in the market: “Politicians, the media, opinion formers are raising questions about why we rely on the market to set prices and profits. An overall lack of trust in the market and the risk of interventions could hamper realization of our vision for future retail energy markets.”
A survey by Which? recently found that the energy industry was less trusted than the banking sector and another poll by Radio 5 Live found over two thirds of people thought the energy industry should be nationalised.
Also speaking at the meeting, Angela Knight, the Chief Executive of Energy UK said there was still too much confusion at the heart of policy.
She said: “When one looks at energy policy and how its developed in this country, you think to yourself, well could I explain this to Martian? – and the answer is no.”
She blamed a lack of transparency throughout the sector for a lack of engagement and attacked politicians for failing to tell the public some home truths about the causes of rising energy bills, whether it be the cost of new infrastructure and climate changes measures or increasing fuel prices on the world market.
Mrs Knight added: “If we are going to have the consumer engagement that we all want, then we must treat the consumer as an adult and talk about it in a proper debate and not just play – price has gone up, who’s fault? Hit an energy company.”