Improvement Required in Quality of Sites Comparing Energy Prices
Of the 13 sites which provide comparisons of energy prices, only five sites use independent data. Although consumers do not experience any of the comparative sites as difficult to use, none of these sites provides complete information. This is not only because small regional suppliers of energy are not included, but also because not all the available products are shown. At present, no site provides complete transparency. This emerges from research commissioned by the Office of Energy Regulation (DTe), which monitors and regulates the liberalised energy market. The research was carried out by Roland Berger Strategy Consultants.
Gert Zijl, Director of DTe: 'Transparency with regard to prices is an important condition for allowing consumers to make a well-considered choice of energy supplier. Comparative sites play an important role in this. Almost 70% of consumers use these sites and slightly less than 40% base their decision to switch to a different energy supplier on this information. DTe would therefore like these sites to operate in a manner which is beyond reproach."
DTe not only had the independence of the sites tested. They were also assessed with regard to the following:
|Are the prices calculated properly?|
|Are all energy suppliers, products and costs included?|
|Timeliness:||Are changes in the prices charged processed in a timely manner?|
|User-friendliness:||How do customers experience the comparative sites?|
|Information requirement:||What information do consumers expect and what does the site offer?|
Other conclusions from DTe's research:
- The 13 sites make use of five search engines. Only two of the five search engines provide consumers who wish to compare energy prices with correct calculations.
- In almost all cases, the calculation of gas prices is done properly, but the discounts which energy suppliers grant for combined contracts are often not included correctly.
- Since some data on suppliers and products are missing on all the comparative sites, the ranking of the 10 cheapest suppliers differs considerably from one site to the next. This is confusing for consumers.
- Not all comparative sites use the correct tariffs.
'DTe will enter into discussions with the producers of the comparative sites with a view to improving their quality and promoting transparency on the market for consumers. We will continue to monitor the quality of the sites to provide consumers with insight into where they can obtain reliable information.
Since three comparative sites in any event provide consumers with reliable information on electricity, DTe has decided to cease publishing its own lists for green electricity," according Mr Zijl, Director of DTe. "We will maintain these lists so that if the energy market does not become more transparent for consumers, we will be able to commence publication again." The results of the research are obtainable as of today from DTe's website.
The five sites which make use of independent data are: Energieprijzen, Energiebond, Eigen Huis, Gaslicht andEnergievergelijken.
List of electricity sites
*Energievoorzieningen is also shown when entering Energievergelijker.nl
**Mijn Stroom is also shown when entering Ecologiebibliotheek.nl's comparison of green electricity.
Lists of gas sites
List of sites with combined lists for gas and electricity