Ed Davey makes QR codes compulsory on energy bills

ed-davey-post-officeAccording to the BBC: Energy bills to come with compulsory QR barcodes. This is one of Ed Davey’s initiatives as Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. He explains:

The government hopes its plans will encourage the development of smartphone apps that let consumers swipe their phone over an energy bill to read data such as tariff and consumption.

The data could then be automatically uploaded to price comparison sites, to let consumers look at deals from other energy suppliers.

“We’re determined to make energy markets work better for consumers – and despite all the evidence showing that QR codes on bills would make a real difference to people, energy companies still haven’t done anything about it,” said energy minister Ed Davey.

A Quick Response (QR) code is one of those square barcodes that often appear on adverts. It can be scanned by a smart phone to link it with a relevant website.

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  • Ian Eiloart 11th Mar '14 - 4:45pm

    Hmm, I hope he’s going to fund the development of a standard for this. And maybe the development of an app. Without a standard, it’s pointless.

  • Well that is just what poor people who struggle to pay their energy bills need — a gimmick for their smart phone.

    Even those of us who are not struggling to pay the bills have of course been sitting on the edge of our seats waiting for another gimmick from Edward Davey.

    OK so there is the downside that he carries out Conservative policies on nuclear power and fracking with relish and enthusiasm, but when it comes to cheap and meaningless gimmicks you can rely on Edward Davey, because of course gimmicks are much more important than nuclear radiation or the impact of fracking on our environment.

  • Malcolm Todd 11th Mar '14 - 5:42pm

    “all the evidence showing that QR codes on bills would make a real difference to people”



  • Who’s the neocon again?
    “Believers” have faith in a scientific consensus that has never “believed” itself beyond “could be’. You can’t tell kids science “believes” as much as you do.
    Dump the climate blame exaggeration, it’s killing us and is doing to us what Bush did with his false wars.

  • Malcolm Todd, in answer to you question — no this is not a claim you can take seriously.
    When interviewed on BBC TV recently Edward Davey claimed you could save “up to £200” by switching supplier. Once you have deducted the cost of the smart phone capable of reading the QR that does to leave a lot does it?

    Once you have deducted the cost of subsidising the nuclear corporations for 35 years into the future, it does not leave anything at all.

  • Well, apparently people without smartphones will be OK because those with smartphones will help them:

    But seriously, that article ends with the suggestion that the government simply develops a user-friendly comparison website, rather than making QR codes compulsory in the hope that someone will develop a smartphone app that will do the job. I suppose that would be too easy, though.

  • How will those of us who don’t get paper bills use this?

  • Stuart Mitchell 11th Mar '14 - 6:54pm

    Great! More help for young tech-savvy customers to grab better deals, subsidised by everybody else paying more. I’d rather have an energy secretary who’s interested in getting a fair deal for everybody rather than a select few.

  • A much more worthy use of time than anything to do with that care bill amendment that went through today. Congratulations.

  • We are at serious risk of blackouts in the UK because Labour did not build any new nuclear power stations. Most nuclear power stations will close down in the next decade leaving an 8 GW capacity hole. We have to get rid of the coal power stations as they emit too much CO2, and that will be about a 14 GW loss of capacity. Wind is intermittent, even with the number of turbines already installed, with many more being planned, quite often they produce less than half a GW. Solar only works during the day obviously. Our gas supply is looking dicey too, what happens when rather than if Russia cuts off the supply to Europe via Ukraine?

    I think Ed Davey is a great guy. I think he has more pressing matters to attend to than QR codes however. Blaming Ed Miliband would be a good start, as Miliband was energy secretary when Labour were in charge. What a mess!

  • Peter Hayes 11th Mar '14 - 8:40pm

    As a pensioner I have a basic phone in case I break down. Why a QR and not a simple phone number or web site?

  • @ Joe King “I think Ed Davey is a great guy. I think he has more pressing matters to attend to than QR codes however. Blaming Ed Miliband would be a good start, as Miliband was energy secretary when Labour were in charge. What a mess!”
    Yep, agree. Security of supply is the elephant in the room and we need to start investing in energy infrastructure if we’re to keep the lights on and the bills down. But continued political uncertainty is stopping this from happening. There are plenty of good things Ed Davey could be doing as energy secretary. If he wants to make switching easier for example he could set targets for the roll out of smart meters (it will make switching possible in a day or two rather than weeks). Instead, we get QR codes.

  • “How will those of us who don’t get paper bills use this?”

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the answer was that you should print out your paperless bill so that you could scan (or get a friend or relation with a smartphone to scan) the QR code …

  • Well I’m going to buck the trend and say this is a really nice simple and useful idea. It only takes a few minutes to type in your tariff and usage on a comparison site but with a QR code you can skip all of that and go direct to the results. If you have online billing you don’t need a QR code just a link which does the same job.

  • I agree with George Potter. I have a smartphone and consider myself reasonably tech-savvy (and good at switching to get better deals, whether from banks or utilities) but cannot see more than 1% of the population using this. Very gimmicky.

  • “If you have online billing you don’t need a QR code just a link which does the same job.”

    Then why not simply print a link (in a suitable short format) on the bill?

  • Steve Griffiths 12th Mar '14 - 12:31pm

    Well I am a smartphone owner and with a bit of practice (and although new to such technology) I have been taught to use apps etc. The only problem is the useless signal for mobiles in my area. I live in the centre of England, in the Prime Minister’s constituency, 12 miles from a world leading university city, and there are large areas around where I live, without a useable signal. The village I live in has a population of 3000 and a useable 2G would be good, let alone all the fuss over 4G.

  • The underlying assumption is, of course, that if only we were all better shoppers everything would be rosy. And if tech-savvy better shoppers, then even rosier.

    Utter nonsense. The problem is that, as in so many other cases, competition doesn’t work nearly as well as advertised.

  • The people who will benefit from this (QR coded energy data) are the door-to-door sales/conmen, as these are the only group of people who do a sufficient level of lookup to benefit from the savings a QR code would bring.

    But even then having switched several times in recent years, I question the accuracy and hence usefulness of of the information a supplier can provide, in my case I’ve got better results out of the comparison sites by spending a little time collating annual energy consumption from previous bills and feeding that information into the various comparison sites (yes they don’t all give the same result!).

    No a better use of Ed Davey’s time would be to force massive improvements to the readable parts of the bill so that the average person can understand it.

  • Let us be realistic. Gas and electricity were privatised so that big business chums of the Tories could make fat profits by doing nothing. This pretence that we can switch from one to another and all live happily ever after is about as realistic as thinking that if you test out the beds in a house full of bears you will find somewhere “just right” to sleep.

    Crony capitalism indeed and Exward Davey likes the cronies just as much as his predeessors —

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