Jane Bradley: Can energy watchdogs tell me where off switch is?

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WE ALL know how confusing energy companies are – the bills are impossible to understand, there are too many tariffs, people don’t understand how they can switch.

As a result, guidelines are now being produced to force energy companies into making their offerings more straightforward. Progress.

But now, energy watchdogs have become embroiled in a battle for the right to help consumers understand and get a better deal on their energy bills. Even more confused? You’re not the only one.

In February, Which? launched its Big Switch campaign, which encouraged people to sign up to submit their bills and allow the organisation’s experts to find them the best deal.

More than a quarter of a million people signed up. But now the Energyhelpline.com has set up a rival switching project – claiming its offering is better than that of Which? The body says it will pocket less commission from suppliers than its rival but admits it will work in a similar way to “other recent high-profile collective purchasing campaigns”.

Launching its scheme last week – called the Huge Switch – Mark Todd, director of Energyhelpline.com, was quoted on Martin Lewis’s Moneysavingexpert site as saying that he felt the Which? scheme had “a number of flaws”.

The organisation, however, managed to extract a short statement of support from Which?, which claimed that it welcomed Energyhelpine.co.uk’s initiative – although you can’t help feeling that the sentiment must have come through gritted teeth.

Yes, these things have to be run as businesses – taking commission from energy firms to allow organisations such as Which? and Energyhelpline.co.uk to function. But do they really have to be set up as rivals?

The whole thing is just making me breathe a huge sigh of frustration and cynicism, stuff my energy bills back in the drawer once again and just keep on paying exorbitant amounts to my current supplier to avoid the whole debacle