Energy regulator Ofgem launches its new Standards of Conduct
Ofgem has now officially brought in its new rules for energy suppliers.
The energy regulator has brought in a new code of conduct designed to aid energy consumers, and eventually ensure energy companies reduce the number of tariffs available to customers to a total of four core options.
Ofgem's new Standards of Conduct are based on three areas, behaviour, information and process.
Suppliers will now have to make sure they conduct themselves in what is deemed as a "fair, honest, transparent, appropriate and professional manner" or else face the risk of sanctions.
Similarly, they must ensure they always provide customers with complete and accurate information, whether over the phone or in written form - this information also has to be conveyed in plain and simple language that is not confusing to the customer.
in regards to process, Ofgem is referring to the ability of customers being able to contact their energy supplier quickly and easily - energy suppliers will now have to ensure they act "promptly and courteously" in their customer service, with the arrangements fully complete and transparent.
Ofgem chief executive, Andrew Wright, said: "The standards of conduct we have introduced require suppliers to go through a culture change in the way they treat consumers.
"They have to make sure they are embedding simplicity, clarity and fairness into all their dealings with consumers to tackle the lack of trust that has blighted the market.
"The standards of conduct will also enhance consumer protection as they are backed by Ofgem's power to levy fines."
Other key changes are set to occur in the near future, with a timeline in place setting out these changes.
On October 22, 2013, suppliers will be banned from making changes to fixed term tariffs, including bumping up the prices. They will also no longer be able to roll over fixed term contracts without a customers permission.
On New Years Eve, December 31, 2013, energy suppliers will officially only be allowed to offer the four core tariffs per fuel type.
Next year will see further changes including suppliers having to provide bill owners with personalised information on the cheapest tariff available to them and will also see customers on old, 'dead tariffs', transferred to the cheapest variable rate.
Many energy suppliers are already participating in the government's Green Deal scheme, offering energy consumers advice and potential loans on things such as boilers and wall insulation to improve their home's energy efficiency.
With schemes like this and Ofgem's new Standards of Conduct , consumers will have further support in tackling increasingly high energy bills.
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