Energy bills are too hard to calculate, says Which?

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The Independent Online

Energy tariffs are too complicated for many customers to understand, according to Which?

The consumer watchdog asked 36 members of the public to calculate the cost of a domestic energy bill using information from suppliers' websites but the task proved too difficult for all but one of the group. An accountant was among those who failed the test.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: "People tell us they want to be able to check they're paying the right price for their energy, and even when an accountant struggled to calculate a bill, it shows it's far too complicated. Which? wants the regulator to stamp out excessively complex tariffs, across the board."

Twelve of those taking part in the test used the British Gas website, while 12 used Southern Electric and 12 used E.ON. They were chosen for being the largest dual fuel suppliers.

The only person who correctly worked out how much they should pay a year, using standardised data rather than their own bills, was a company director. Two firms which have a simpler tariff structure on their websites, Ebico Energy and Co-operative Energy, were tested by 28 people – of those 10 successfully calculated the bill.

Keith Pledger, chairman at exam board Edexcel, oversaw the test for Which? and said A-level maths students would find calculating a bill with British Gas's standard tariff difficult.