Once upon a time, EDF Energy turned out to be actually really nice...
Even though it’s not actually that cold, it’s still winter and we still need the heating on, which means the big bad ‘Big Six’ energy companies are still not flavour of the month. However, one of the cartel (so-called because they seem incapable of making a price rise change without all holding hands and joining in) has now decided that it would make for a better public image if they were to try and find some new friends.
French-owned EDF Energy has now decided that, instead of playing with the big boys, they want to play with us little consumers instead. Not only do they want to be our friend, they want to be our champion no less. And this is in no way a marketing stunt aimed at attracting the more gullible of the consumer set to switch energy provider, despite being announced in ‘Marketing’ magazine.
Marketing *raises eyebrow* director Martin Stead says his firm "does not like" the continued association with its rivals. "How about we have a big five, and we are actually the champion trying to do the right thing for customers to bear down on the bad things the industry is doing?" he asked, plaintively.
Stead claims EDF have shown their consumer champion stripes by things like scrapping termination fees, keeping price increases lower than rivals and lobbying for greater transparency by creating a single unit price for energy-although British Gas is totally against this latter point claiming it is ‘unfair’.
But attempts by energy firms to dress up as Granny and hide their sharp teeth are not new. Nor have they been particularly successful so far. Remember British Gas’ ‘Free Energy on a Saturday’deal that meant you paid more for energy throughout the week in order to earn your ‘free’ day? Or nPower, who are just now spouting about how the consumer is their central concern, despite recent major computer system malfunctions and a £3.5m unfair sales practices fine.
EDF’s claims have been dismissed as "frankly laughable" by the Fuel Poverty Action group, who chuntered to the Guardian: "Perhaps EDF executives are not aware that the company made nearly a billion pounds in profits in six months last year, but still put its prices up at the end of the year, or perhaps they have never read the messages posted on their social media pages, full of customers fed up with waiting for refunds or distressed at being put on a meter."
Dale Vince, founder of the small independent supplier Ecotricity, was similarly dismissive. "The public are not stupid and will judge the big six by actions not words. Just abandoning the label will not change anything. Wasn't it EDF which was accused of blackmail before Christmas by threatening to put up prices if government did not reduce green levies?"
A Big 6 energy company on our side? It may be a fairytale, but actions will speak louder than words, so we’ll have to wait and see. Perhaps pigs can fly.