Assembly Member calls for energy companies to 'come clean' over cheque costs

November 28, 2011 3:31 PM
Originally published by Peter Black and South Wales West Liberal Democrats

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black has called for the energy companies to come clean over the premium that they charge to customers who pay their bills by cheque.

Mr. Black was reacting to a survey produced by Which? Which showed that on average customers who pay their dual-fuel bills by cheque are being charged almost £100 a year more than those who pay by direct debit.

Mr Black, who is the Welsh Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Social Justice said:

"While nobody disputes that it must cost more for the energy companies to process a cheque payment rather than one that is made by direct debit, there is real doubt that it costs an average of £100 a year for each and every customer who does so. These companies need to come clean over cheque processing costs.

"Many customers already suspect the energy companies of ripping them off by pushing up prices as quickly as possible when wholesale prices rise, but dragging their feet when wholesale prices fall. This latest research will simply confirm the suspicions of many people that the big power companies are abusing their dominance of the market.

"Other research has made it clear that older people, particularly those over 70, tend to use direct debits less than other sections of the population. This self-same group are one of those identified as suffering the most from fuel poverty. People on low incomes also want the control of using cheques rather than having a direct debit on their account. "The Big Six energy companies need to show us that they are not profiteering at the expense of those who pay by cheque."

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