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Loyal customers get insufficient reward from energy suppliers

Energy suppliers should focus on exisitng customers more than on acquiring new ones, and reward loyal customers with bonuses or help them save energy, Ofgem's consumer panel has told the regulator.

The regulator's panel of energy consumers also stressed the importance of clearer bills, better information about energy consumtion and easy tariff comparisons.  The consumer first panel said customers wanted bills that were clearer and easier to understand, and a simple indicator to help them compare prices from all suppliers.

Worrying for the big six, the Ofgem exercise was further evidence of widespread consumer dissatisfaction with the sectors performance.  Highlighted recently by a government sponsored survey and earlier this month by the latest UK customer satisfaction index.  The detailed report of the panel's findings concluded that expectations of suppliers are low.

Energy suppliers were considered different from other service industries, the report said and were certainly viewed less favourably than telecoms companies.

'The energy market is not percieved as providing a high level of customer care and in a contaxt of rising bills is suspected to be driven primarily by profit' it said

The Energy Retail Association insisted that companies talked to their customers daily and took on board their views and suggestions on a range of issues. 'We welcome the suggestion by the panel that companies reward loyalty' said a spokeswomen. 'Energy companies already offer a range of loyalty schemes, links with other retailers and special offers'