Baffling Utility Bills Leave Consumers Confused, Bemused And Definitely
on: June 30, 2009, 4:42 am
are being left confused, badly informed and potentially vulnerable
to debt because of the poor quality of some major household bills,
according to uSwitch.com,
the independent price comparison and switching service. The warning
comes after new research revealed stark differences in the standard
of bills being issued by different industry sectors. While some
are simple and straightforward for people to understand, others
are leaving consumers totally confused.
suppliers, water companies and home telephone and broadband
providers are responsible for the most confusing household bills.
Of these, energy bills appear to be the most complicated - three
quarters (75%) of consumers find them confusing. Other utility
providers are not doing much better either - 59% of consumers
find their home telephone, broadband and DTV bills confusing,
matched by those left confused by water bills (59%).
68% of consumers find energy bills harder to understand
than other household bills. On average households are spending
£1,243 a year on energy bills, but only four in ten consumers
(40%) find it easy to work out how their energy company has calculated
their bill. Suppliers also seem to be failing to communicate on
a basic level with their customers - only 39% of people think
that their energy bills are written in plain English. Less than
half (45%) think that the name of their energy plan is easy to
the opposite end of the spectrum are banks and building societies,
where almost three quarters (72%) of consumers find their bills
and statements simple and straightforward to understand. Personal
finance companies generally seem to be issuing customer-friendly
information in a format that most people can understand - just
41% of consumers find credit and store card bills confusing.
findings suggest that the energy industry is lagging behind other
sectors in being able to communicate simply and clearly with customers.
This could leave consumers disadvantaged as energy bills account
for a sizeable chunk of the average annual household budget. Experts
also predict that energy bills will quadruple within the next
10 years. If consumers are to be able to manage this aspect of
their budget, and be able to make an informed decision when switching,
they need to be able to understand basic information such as their
consumption, spend and tariff details.
Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: "Nobody likes bills,
but they do play a fundamental part in the relationship between
a company and its customers. A well-written, clear and concise
bill should leave consumers feeling empowered and in control,
not bemused. This is why it is so worrying to find that three
quarters of us are confused by our energy bills.
has signalled its intention to work with suppliers on improving
energy bills. This is a vital piece of work if we are to see well-informed
consumers taking full advantage of the competitive energy market.
If Ofgem is to succeed in making energy bills
simpler, clearer and easier then it has to look outside of the
energy industry for ideas on best practice. Judging by our research,
it could do far worse than look to banks and building societies,
which seem to be leading the way in providing consumers with bills
and information they can easily understand."
Contact Details: See
the full version of this press release.
For more information please contact:
Jo Ganly, at uSwitch.com on 0207 802 2915 or firstname.lastname@example.org
uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and telephone-based comparison
and switching service, helping consumers compare prices on gas,
electricity, water, heating cover, home telephone, broadband,
digital television, mobile phones, personal finance products and
Source: uSwitch Ltd