Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 14:21 UK

Timetable set for 'fairer' bills

Oven
The changes come after an Ofgem investigation

A timetable has been set by the energy regulator for new rules to come into force that ensure the fairer treatment of consumers.

All energy customers will be sent their first annual statement by their supplier by December 2010, Ofgem said.

Changes that allow pre-payment meter customers to switch suppliers even if they have a debt on bills of up to £200 will be in place by January.

The changes come after an investigation by the regulator into household bills.

Bills clarity

Ofgem started the investigation into the state of the energy market in the UK in February 2008.

The [new standards] call on suppliers to be clear, fair and courteous and to take the confusion out of comparing products
Andrew Wright, Ofgem

In its initial findings a year ago, Ofgem said that there was no evidence of collusion between the "big six" suppliers in setting prices and the market was "working well" for most consumers.

But it raised concerns over the difference in prices for those paying in different ways.

At the start of September, the first of the new rules - which ensured different payment methods reflected the cost to the supplier of offering those methods - was brought into force.

The new annual statement, which customers will start to receive from July, will provide customers with details such as their energy tariff, consumption and a reminder of the customer's right to switch.

Other new rules include the provision of written quotes for doorstep sales, which must be supplied from 18 January 2010.

The same date has been set for the requirement that small businesses be given clear contracts, and more notice of when a new contract can be negotiated.

"The new standards define the spirit of the new rules to go with the letter of the laws," said Ofgem's Andrew Wright.

"They call on suppliers to be clear, fair and courteous and to take the confusion out of comparing products."



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