Two of the big gas and electricity suppliers have announced that they will be freezing their prices for the winter months to help customers manage their utility bills. British Gas and EON have both said that they won’t increase prices over winter when bills often increase due to higher usage. The move will be good news for around nine million customers who get their supplies through the two currently.
No change until April
Anyone ringing the British Gas customer service phone number to query rising bills due to changes in tariff over winter received the pleasant news that this wouldn’t be the case as the company followed a move by SSE. This means that their customer won’t see a price rise due to tariffs increasing until April 2017 at the earliest. EON also announced the same price guarantee for their customers.
The move is a good one but also has something to do with pressure from the government and politicians to help people cope with the rising prices of gas and energy. A number of people in or suffering from what is known as ‘fuel poverty’ continues to rise as energy bills increase and the cost of living does too.
British Gas announced the move with a series of adverts in national newspapers where it said that its standard tariff would remain ‘unchanged through the winter’ so it is taken to mean no changes until the end of March 2017. If customers are unsure if they are going to be affected by the move, they can also ring the British Gas customer service phone number and they can get confirmation. Similar services are available through the EON customer services phone number for their customers.
Consumer group Which? welcomed the move to help customers struggling with high fuel bills. But they were quick to point out that standard tariffs are usually among the most expensive on the market in the first place. They also used consumers to shop around and look at switching tariffs or even suppliers to get a better deal.
Managing director of Home and Legal Services Alex Neill said that the companies should be doing more to help customers than just freezing prices for a short time. He believes that they should be seeking to actively engage with customers on high, standard tariffs to help them get better deals and save money.
Both British Gas and EON said that they are already working with customers to help them get a better deal and to understand the different tariffs available to them. EON added that their program to introduce smart meters to customers around the country is a big part of this, allowing them to be better informed about their energy usage.
Energy companies, in general, have faced a great deal of criticism in recent times for exploiting customers who are uncertain about switching and stay on the same expensive deal for months or years. Business Secretary Greg Clark met with representatives from the companies recently to discuss the idea of them profiteering from loyal customers.
Currently, the cheapest of the big companies is British Gas with the average price for a year with them costing around £1044 but it is £182 more expensive than the best deal on the market.
Getting the best deal
The decision to freeze prices partly comes from the rise of wholesale prices in recent weeks that have affected the bottom line for energy companies. But experts say this shouldn’t affect the energy companies as they buy supplies ahead of time and the rise in wholesale price won’t affect them until coming months.