PRWeek TV: Energy companies need to 'grasp the nettle' of rising prices

The 'big six' energy firms have been advised they must 'grasp the nettle' of rising prices as PRWeek research reveals the depth of public mistrust in the industry.

A PRWeek/OnePoll survey of 2,000 members of the public revealed that 80% did not trust the big six energy firms to sell them the cheapest deal, while 62% said that pricing plans were no clearer than a year ago.

Responding to the survey results a week after SSE was fined £10.5 by Ofgem for mis-selling energy policies, Geoff Beattie, Cohn & Wolfe’s global corporate practice and energy leader, told PRWeek TV that the problem of public trust ‘goes back to privatisation’.

‘I don’t think the privatised energy companies have really got to grips with how they communicate with consumers. That has been exacerbated in this period where we have rapidly rising energy bills.

‘The problem in terms of trust is not so much that the prices are rising, but I think the companies have not been very good at explaining why those prices are rising and what they can do about it.’

Chris Pratt, senior associate director at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, commented that new entrants into the market were beginning to bring more choice, but that the big six energy firms ‘have not yet seized the bull by the horns and tried to explain why energy prices are rising’.

Pratt added: ‘Unfortunately the way these organisations try to engage with customers is still far too complex, but it is changing.’

Beattie also suggested the situation was only going to become more critical, as rising wholesale gas prices, the cost of infrastructure and introduction of the carbon floor price continue to push prices higher.

‘The situation is only going to get worse,’ he said. ‘Therefore companies really have to grasp the nettle and have an honest conversation with people about why that is happening.’

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