Measures making it easier for consumers to switch providers for utilities and other services should be considered by Government and companies themselves, according to Fine Gael TD Richard Bruton.
Deputy Bruton, Chair of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, raised the matter during a Topical Issues debate in the Dáil today. Speaking during the debate, Deputy Bruton said, “The intense focus on the cost of living for consumers is welcome.
“However, easing the impact of energy bills should be matched by new measures to protect consumers from being ripped-off by big companies who earn big profits by making it difficult for consumers to get better value. Older consumers and consumers who are less “tech savvy” are the target of this profiteering.
“It is time to confront this unfair treatment in legislation. I am calling for simple measures, including:
- Make it a legal requirement on all companies who issue bills to inform consumers of an upcoming renewal date in good time to allow them to look for better value. This should be specifically applied to Mobile Phone Contracts, TV and Broadband Services, Financial Contracts and Utility Bills.
- Require these notifications to incorporate a QR code that shows the consumer’s pattern of use and the charging regime which they are on, so that price comparison sites can give that customer a precise answer on where best value can be obtained.
- Require a Code of Practice that guarantees a timely and frictionless response to customers who request to review their contract, with an adequate phone system for those who are not adept at online negotiation.
- Require Electricity companies to immediately activate the 700,000 Smart Meters which are already installed to allow people get access to cheaper electricity from dynamic pricing, allowing them to get the benefit of cheaper off-peak and renewable power.
“Regulators in Energy, Communications, Health Insurance and Financial Services must have the power to police such rules, and where the company’s complaint mechanism fails to resolve a complaint, the Regulator’s adjudication should be binding.”