UK energy regulator calls for industry to resolve switching problems

2 June 2003 – Gas and electricity companies were today challenged by UK energy regulator Ofgem to tackle decisively the problems experienced by some customers when changing to another supplier.

This call heralds an industry summit on improving customer transfers to be held jointly by Ofgem and consumer body, Energywatch, next week, at which companies will be pressed hard to put their houses in order.

Ofgem’s challenge is issued in a progress report on ‘Improving Customer Transfers’, which sets the scene for the summit and highlights Ofgem’s commitment to making markets work for customers.

Managing Director for Customers and Supply, John Neilson, said: “Ofgem believes the time is now right for the industry to root out the causes of these problems.

“Weak industry processes lead to problems in switching, suppliers failing to issue bills and considerable unnecessary cost – perhaps up to £200m ($325m) a year. These problems cause consumers a great deal of upset and inconvenience as well as hamper competition.

“We will make it clear to companies that they will be working against the clock. That clock will start ticking immediately after next week’s summit meeting.”

Currently Energywatch receives 3500 complaints each month about the problems customers face in changing their suppliers.

This work will also help address fears that problems in customer transfers may stifle competition and deter customers from making the switch.