EVEN to this day, many older people continue to place a premium on loyalty because it is what they were taught by their forebears. When they opened up a bank, or chose an energy supplier, they were effectively entering into a lifelong commitment.
All such consumers expected in return was good service – another old-fashioned commodity in increasingly short supply – and the occasional reward, or incentive, as a gesture of goodwill. They did not intend their loyalty to be misappropriated.
Yet this is precisely the type of behaviour that has brought the privatised energy industry into such disrepute, as evidenced by the hard-hitting Parliamentary report published today by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves who heads the influential Business Select Committee.
Not only does this all-party critique conclude that the “energy market is broken”, but it also concludes that “millions of customers are ripped off for staying loyal to their energy provider”. Just like those financial institutions that don’t offer the most advantageous rates of interest to those longstanding clients who either don’t understand the small print or choose, for whatever reason, not to bank online, it’s the same with the so-called ‘Big Six’ energy companies.
Their inability to reform – and take heed of repeated warnings that began with the then Labour leader Ed Miliband’s speech to his party conference in 2014 – is one of the ‘burning injustices’ that Theresa May did, in fact, promise to address when she became Prime Minister more than 18 months ago.
Yet, with 12 million customers stuck on poor-value tariffs, and industry regulator Ofgem too slow to respond to the concerns of consumers, the case for Government intervention – and price caps – becomes more compelling with each passing day until it can be shown that competition within this sector truly benefits all, and especially those who trust their supplier to automatically provide the deal that best suits their needs and thereby avoiding the rigmarole of having to make alternative arrangements.