Ofgem recently completed a Harris-commissioned study, polling 90 SMEs and enquiring about their use of energy and their experience of the energy market. Although this segment of the market represents comparatively low revenues for the suppliers -notwithstanding that little revenue times many SMEs still represents a fair few bob – it is a sector they should heed, as some of these SMEs may one day become significant PLCs with proportionate clout.
And the current views are damming. Energy suppliers are perceived as undifferentiated, offering in essence a commodity. There are claims of profiteering, of little or no proactivity when it comes to contract renewal, rollover or issuing of renewal letters, and of insufficient transparency concerning bill management, tariff rates and contract terms.
The bill is often found to be difficult to understand. In general there is a feeling that suppliers should be more honest and proactive. The concept of backbilling is intensely disliked, being described as ‘unfair’ and ‘diabolical’. Conversely, overpayments, sometimes involving large sums of money, take a considerable amount of time to be repaid by some suppliers.
Auditel affiliates will not be surprised by these gripes, but comforted by the fact that they bring genuine help to these stranded SMEs, not just on the financial side but also with decrypting a series of unfathomable hieroglyphics and possibly even with managing emotions!
This survey should be bedside reading for the CEO of all energy suppliers.