Re: Is it a losing battle ?
As far as I know, every time "competition" has been fostered, then end result is fewer players.We started off in the late 90s with several small, localised energy suppliers. Now there's EON/EDF and BG (who all have resellers - not the same thing as competition)
Look who's not being paying any attention. There's now about thirty active, independent energy suppliers to choose from (go and look 'em up on Uswitch or Ofgem), far more than there were in the 1990s. Ignoring the big players, the largest of these new entrants has grown from zip to over a million customers, and you've got a choice of cooperatives, green energy suppliers, council owned, independent commercials, or external branded suppliers (eg Co-op). Few of those are resellers for the large companies (only SSE and British Gas have what are referred to as "white label" suppliers, primarily Sainsbury's Energy, and Marks & Spencer Energy). Getting an energy supply licence is cheap (£400 odd) so why not set one up yourself if you;re not happy with the current level of choice?
Regarding the chop and change, if you join a new entrant supplier in any established market, what do you expect? Few companies enter new markets with long term survive and grow plans, they simply want to make the founders rich, and when they've had enough they sell out, either to another new entrant or an established player. Or like many new entrants in all markets, they find that the other man's grass was not actually as green as it looked, and their customers get acquired when they go to the wall.
Having said that, this growth of "competition" in energy is a recent regulatory creation by DECC tilting the playing field in favour of small suppliers. In commodity markets like energy and telecoms, there's significant economies of scale, and absent intervention you'd expect a functioning market to converge on a small number of very large players, with small niche positions held by challengers only in segments that the big players can't or won't serve. Where Ofcom do nothing we see exactly this, of consolidations, a lot of product choice even if little supplier choice, some innovation but limited attention to uneconomic markets. In the obsessively regulated energy industry, you see the opposite, of fragmentation without innovation, and money being thrown at the wall under the guise of ECO or WHD.
Which would you prefer?