British energy companies have been given the all clear to renew their partnerships with cashback websites following much debate over a set of guidelines for the gas and electricity industry.
Rules imposed by energy watchdog Ofgem within its Retail Market Review (RMR) prevented utility suppliers from using cashback sites on the basis that it may influence customers towards a less suitable tariff.
One of the main reasons for the guidelines being applied in January 2014 was to create a ‘Simpler, Clearer and Fairer’ energy market for UK customers. Ofgem had raised concerns over cashback sites encouraging people to switch energy providers based on the money they received back from changing suppliers, as opposed to the terms listed in their tariff.
The move triggered an appeal from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), who met with Ofgem at the end of last year to clarify that it is the cashback site, rather than the energy company, that provides the financial reward.
UK-based performance marketing agency Online Media Group (OMG) also lobbied for the rules to be reversed, and after energy giant npower reappeared on sites such as Quidco, TopCashBack, both parties spoke to PerformanceIN about the new agreement.
Creating a ‘more competitive’ market
While Ofgem had ordered the likes of npower, M&S Energy and First Utility to pull their cashback partnerships by the end of March 2014, the body had agreed that such sites did provide a powerful incentive for promoting engagement within the energy market.
Fresh appeals from the likes of OMG centred on how cashback sites could be used to promote a more competitive energy market, delivering key information to customers and allowing them to make more informed decisions on their supplier.
OMG has confirmed that it took “a number of months” to define what it Ofgem considers to be an appropriate set of controls for using cashback sites in the spirit of the RMR. Now, judging by the current list of partners on topcashback.co.uk, it seems that npower, along with Scottish Power, e-on and a number of other energy groups have restored their connections to these sites.
Npower follows suit
With a resolution now in place, npower told PerformanceIN that it was ready to serve its cashback-using customers.
A statement from the company read: “Npower is following other suppliers who have returned to the cashback market. Cashback offers a positive way in which to drive engagement and to encourage consumers to find the right tariff for their needs.”
Npower added that it was “vital” that cashback users check the terms and conditions of their new tariff to ensure a suitable fit.