27 January 2015
Ofgem has strengthened the rules for price comparison websites with the introduction of a new Confidence Code.
The revised code requires accredited sites to meet tighter standards on how tariffs are displayed so consumers can be confident that deals aren’t hidden from view. Sites will have to list prominently which energy companies they have commission arrangements with, and make it clear that they earn commission on certain tariffs.
According to the regulator, comparison sites are currently the most popular way to shop around for gas and electricity – around 40% of energy shoppers used a comparison site to compare suppliers at their last switch.
The aim of Ofgem’s Confidence Code is to give customers assurance that accredited sites are independent of suppliers, carry every tariff available in the market and meet higher standards of accuracy and reliability when showing tariff information.
The Code was reviewed in 2014 by Ofgem, examining whether it provides the right protections for energy customers. The previous version of the Code allowed sites to take users straight to a partial view of tariffs from suppliers paying commission to the site. The changes will help customers make an informed choice when using an accredited comparison site and include:
Banning a default partial view: sites must show all tariffs available in the market unless customers actively choose to select to see a smaller number of tariffs.
Ending confusing language: the wording of any choice must be very clear to site users. Sites must test their messaging with consumers and be able to prove that it is clear and simple. If a site cannot demonstrate this, it will not be able to give customers a choice of view, and will have to show all tariffs. The wording of this choice must be approved by Ofgem.
Making commission arrangements transparent: sites must explain clearly that they earn commission on tariffs that customers can switch to directly through the site.