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Energy customers in Wales risk price hikes by ignoring bills

Energy customers in Wales are failing to open their bills – putting them at risk of unwittingly falling victim to gas and electricity price hikes.

And ‘bill-literacy’ means even more customers are sticking their heads in the sand and are clueless about the cost of their energy supply, new research has shown.

But customers could be saving nearly £300 on their bills by joining forces in Carphone Warehouse’s ‘Green Collective Switch’.

Research by Atomik for Carphone Warehouse showed that, for energy consumers in Wales,:

  • 53% are at risk of surprising energy hikes by failing to open their household bills
  • 68% do not know the standard price of energy for their home, with fixed payments and bill confusion cited as the main reasons people do not read their bills
  • 44% do not know exactly how much energy is used in their house each month
  • Carphone Warehouse’s ‘Green Collective Switch’ could see people save up to £296 on their energy bills

The research showed that, of those who receive their bills through the post, only on in five (19%) actually read them.

The new findings also show that four in ten Brits (41%) have no idea how much energy they use, with more than one in ten (14%) admitting to never sending a meter reading to their energy supplier.

Fixed direct debits (24%) and confusion over what energy bills tell you (12%) – or bill-literacy – were found as the most common excuses for failing to read their bills.

Last week saw energy company SSE hike their customers’ bills by £76, the latest in a round of recent price rises by the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers affecting nearly 11 million customers in total.

Two in five of those surveyed said that explanations given for price rises was the most frustrating ‘pet peeve’ when it comes to energy firms, followed by favourable deals for new customers only and incomprehensible tariffs.

Despite high levels of dissatisfaction, consumers continue to turn a blind eye to switching providers, citing a lack of time (38%) and trust in the Big Six (32%) as key reasons they stick with their incumbent supplier.

Provider inheritance is also a major obstacle when it comes to switching, with a majority of Brits (54%) failing to research or switch energy providers when moving into a new home and 39% sticking to the firm used by the previous tenant.

Carphone Warehouse says its new Green Collective Energy Switch initiative could save consumers £296* on their energy bills whilst also ensuring they’re doing their bit for the environment.

In light of these findings, Carphone Warehouse, which now compares energy tariffs as well as mobile, TV and broadband, is urging customers to beat the price hikes but take the hassle out of switching by considering joining its Green Collective Switch.

Personal finance expert Simon Read said:

“As energy price hikes start to hit, it’s more important now than ever that people are reading their bills, are aware of how much they’re being charged while being extra vigilant about how much gas and electricity they’re using.

“If you feel you’re paying too much or have been treated badly, use comparison tools to check out other providers and more often than not you’ll find there’s a saving you could be making.

“Switching is viewed as time-consuming, however, it’s become a lot easier through new initiatives such as collective switches – where comparing energy providers and negotiating savings is done for you and you could save hundreds in just minutes”.

Florian Ritzmann, Energy Director at Carphone Warehouse, said:

“We understand that switching your energy provider can be confusing and time-consuming, which is why we’ve combined our bulk-buying power with 30 years of experience in negotiating the best deals to offer a great saving on energy bills through our Green Collective Energy Switch.

“For every 5,000 customers we sign up to the Green Collective Energy Switch, 4.3 million tons of CO2 will be saved from entering the atmosphere, equivalent to running 3.9 million cars for a year – which we’re proud to be striving for on World Environment Day.

“What’s more, with £1.48 million to be saved collectively, it’s a no brainer for consumers who are fed up of seeing their bills rise and rise. 

If you register this week you could also be in with a chance to win your energy bill for one whole year.”