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Citizens Advice responds to the government's announcement on the loyalty penalty

18 June 2019

In response to the government's announcement on the loyalty penalty, Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“It’s right that government wants to abolish the mobile phone loyalty penalty, which has cost consumers £341 million since we made our super-complaint. 

“But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Across the four other essential markets we focused on, consumers have been left £2.6 billion worse off since our super-complaint in September.

“Tough new powers for the CMA to fine businesses who have broken the law will help it crack down on firms that exploit customers’ loyalty. 

“But, while the government’s announcement is welcome, we’re disappointed by the lack of action from regulators. The FCA and Ofcom have had six months since the CMA issued its findings on our super-complaint and there has been little progress. They need to set out their plans urgently on how they will tackle this systematic scam.”

Background

Citizens Advice submitted a super-complaint on the loyalty penalty - in the mobile, broadband, home insurance, mortgages and savings markets - to the CMA in September 2018 calling for the regulator to consider how the problem can be fixed. The CMA’s response to our super-complaint in December said it agreed and had found damaging practices by firms which exploit unsuspecting customers. The CMA said it wanted to see urgent action.

Research in 2018 by Citizens Advice found that across five essential markets (mobile, broadband, home insurance, mortgages and savings):

  • British consumers lose £4.1 billion a year to the loyalty penalty (or £11 million a day).
  • Eight in 10 people are paying a significantly higher price, in at least one of the markets, for remaining with their existing supplier.
  • The loyalty penalty across the five markets is, on average, £877 per year

This is the fourth super-complaint Citizens Advice has made since being given the power in 2002. Its super-complaint on payment protection insurance (PPI) in 2005 helped to generate a huge win for consumers, with at least £34.9 billion returned to customers in refunds and compensation so far.

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  2. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  3. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
  5. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  7. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 to talk in Welsh.
  8. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.