Take a look at the image to the right, and read the front page story that goes with it in the Independent. If you can't be bothered to click the link the story goes like this. Yesterday, the Indy ran a story about how energy giants like British Gas, EDF and others were ripping off consumers amid allegations of price fixing.
Quite right too of course to expose the way they've asked us all to bend over and pay more whilst their own profits seem to have gone through the roof, and we, the poor consumers have to choose between expensive or expensive in what does indeed appear to be a slightly skewed energy market.
Today the Indy is thus crowing that it ran a story yesterday, then British Gas announced its profits, and now the energy regulator OFGEM is going to investigate possible price fixing and the companies face the potential of a fine worth up to 10% of their profit. How is this billed in the paper? A "victory for consumers" and "power to the people" apparently, that's how.
Now here's a quick reality check moment. How exactly is the possibility of paying a huge fine into the Treasury by the companies that might have ripped you, me and others off, a victory for the consumer? How is that power to the people? I am a British Gas customer. If they have been price fixing then I, as a consumer, should be reaping the rewards of any possible sanction against them surely? That would be a real victory for me as the consumer.
What is not a "victory for the consumer" is making the company pay huge sums of money (some of it ripped off from me) to the Treasury. That is a victory for the Treasury, and they're essentially turning my ripped off cash into a quasi-tax. When the Independent claims it is "power to the people" its talking absolute balls.
Instead of fining companies and taking consumers money into the Treasury here's a novel idea. How about having a regulator than says "you have to give all your customers X% rebate for being dodgy". Now that would be a victory for the consumer.