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  1. Regulator Ofgem promises the biggest shakeup of the energy retail market since competition began All UK households will receive simplified gas and electricity tariffs by the end of the year and must be told the cheapest deal available from their supplier by the spring, industry regulator Ofgem said on Tuesday. Energy companies must offer no more than four tariffs for each type of fuel in the first stage of a package of reforms, which aim to make the energy market more transparent and simplify pricing. The reforms, backed by the prime minister, include new standards of conduct – a sign that the regulator is taking more aggressive action against energy companies found to have misled customers. Ofgem said the new guidelines would force suppliers to go through "a culture change" in the way they treat consumers. David Cameron pledged last year to force energy companies to offer customers their lowest tariffs – a promise the regulator is now trying to deliver. Ofgem has described the reforms as the biggest shakeup of the energy retail market since competition began. In the first step, new enforceable standards of conduct require suppliers to ensure that every domestic customer is treated fairly. New rules forcing suppliers to put details of their cheapest offers – personalised for individual consumers – on all bills will be introduced by the end of March. http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/aug/27/simplified-gas-and-electricity-tariffs
  2. Millions will see prices rise by up to 92% as company announces plan to start charging by the minute, rather than by the second Millions of Vodafone pay as you go customers will see the cost of their calls rise by as much as 90% after the company said it was "simplifying" prices. Vodafone is switching from charging per second to charging per minute. That means, for example, that a call lasting 62 seconds that currently costs 26p will, from 1 August, cost 50p – an increase of 92%. The move has incensed some customers, with many critical of the way the price rise was communicated. Pay as you go customers received a text message telling them to go online at vodaphone.co.uk/amends to find details of the change. Headlined: "Pay as you go pricing just got simpler," the message said: "Pay by the minute – and always know how much credit you have left. Calls on Pay as you go are getting simpler from 1 August 2013. No more complicated pricing by the second – just clear, straightforward per minute charges." It said that if a call is one minute and 37 seconds long, it will be charged as two minutes. "That way, you'll always know exactly how many minutes you have left." The change affects calls to UK and international landlines and mobiles. A spokeswoman for Vodafone – which in May announced an operating profit of £12bn – confirmed that all these calls "will be rounded up to the minute", and that the company would not be rounding down the cost of calls, for example, if a call lasted one minute and two seconds, or one minute and 10 seconds. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jul/08/vodafone-customers-angered-call-charges
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