The Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) has today published the detailed results of the annual independent audit of the two accredited energy price comparison websites, which currently operate in the Irish energy market, www.bonkers.ie and www.switcher.ie. The audit results show that both websites remain in compliance with the current accreditation framework.
Independent price comparison services are an important tool for customers to compare energy suppliers with an assurance that the information is provided in an accurate, reliable, transparent and impartial manner.
Energy consumers can make significant savings by shopping around and choosing the supplier or tariff that is best for them. However, CRU research shows that many consumers lose out because they are not aware of these options and find it difficult to make comparisons between the various offers.
Price comparison websites provide a valuable service for consumers by bringing together all the offers available from suppliers and ranking the best options, based on an individual consumer’s information and preferences. These websites also offer a switching service to manage the process of switching suppliers on behalf of customers.
Following the start of deregulation of energy supply in Ireland in 2011, the CRU set out a framework for the accreditation of price comparison websites, incorporating 11 key principles that these website providers must observe in order to become or remain an accredited website.
These principles include principles on a wide range of areas, including independence and impartiality, tariff and price comparison, the calculation of cost comparisons, the accurate update of tariffs, the treatment of green tariffs, consumer information and accessibility, customer care and data protection. As part of the audit, the CRU also provides test case scenarios which simulate the customer interaction with a price comparison tool and tests different customer case scenarios.
The accreditation of the price comparison websites and the annual audits of the accredited websites are part of the CRU’s role in protecting consumers and encouraging consumers to engage with the retail market place to promote greater competition.
To ensure that the audit and accreditation process remains fit for purpose, the CRU will be conducting a public consultation on the framework, which has also been launched today and can be found here.
The full details of the 2017 CRU audit can be can be found here.
The CRU Commissioner with responsibility for the retail sector, Aoife MacEvilly, said: “Price comparison websites are a valuable tool in providing consumers access to neutral and objective information to aid them in their decisions when choosing an energy supplier. By annually auditing and accrediting these websites, the CRU’s objective is to provide consumers with confidence that they have access to independent advice and a valuable service that can deliver real cost savings when choosing a tariff or supplier that is suitable to their energy needs.”