OFGEM to make it even easier for smart shoppers to switch power suppliers online

electricity billsA record number of consumers are using comparison sites to shop around for their gas and electricity.

Recent research from Ofgem shows that 31% of switchers used a comparison service to make the change last time, up from 26% in 2013. This now beats phoning suppliers directly as the main method customers used when they made their last switch.

And – recognising the increasing use of comparison services – Ofgem is today further proposing changes to the Confidence Code scheme.

Plans include updating the rules so that more comparison sites can apply, and bolstering the consumer protection measures that the Code requires of its members. 

Those who make the grade are allowed to display the Confidence Code badge, which tells consumers that they can trust the site’s advice.

A total of 11 comparison sites are now covered by the Code, including some big household names.  Alongside free independent advice on how to compare energy tariffs and get a better deal on gas and electricity bills, all the accredited sites are listed on the Be An Energy Shopper website at:

www.goenergyshopping.co.uk/confidence-code

The website also includes a step-by-step guide to download and keep, or to give to friends and relatives without internet access.

Rachel Fletcher, Ofgem senior partner, said: “Price comparison sites are a great tool to use when energy shopping and it’s good to see more consumers using them. However, consumers quite rightly want to know that recommendations are trustworthy and the Confidence Code badge is a quick and easy way to check that the information is independent, accurate and reliable.”

“There’s a full list of accredited comparison sites on the Be An Energy Shopper website, which also gives clear guidance on how to start shopping around for gas and electricity.  There are potential savings of £200 to be made, just by switching to a better deal, so it’s well worth taking a look.”

So what changes are Ofgem proposing to make to the Confidence Code?

There are two key changes:

1. Being accredited to the Code means that sites have to allow consumers to compare all available tariffs across the market, regardless of whether they receive commission from the supplier or not. OFGEM aim to strengthen this requirement to ensure that consumers are aware of, and can easily access, a whole of market comparison.  

 2. Many comparison sites cannot currently become accredited because the Code states that they must maintain their own tariff database and price calculator to gain accreditation. As consumers are primarily interested in the accuracy and reliability of results, rather than the source of the information, OFGEM intends to remove this restriction. This will allow more sites to become accredited.

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