The loyalty penalties referred to in the Deputy's question occur where long-standing customers pay significantly more than new customers for the same services. Competition among suppliers focuses on attracting new customers with lower introductory prices with the result that customers who stay with the same supplier can end up paying higher prices. As such penalties may have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable consumers such as those on low incomes or those who have difficulty in accessing online offers, I share the Deputy's view that this is an issue that needs to be examined and, where required, addressed.
The information available to me suggests however that loyalty penalties are concentrated in a small number of sectors where contracts are automatically renewed or rolled over or are of indefinite duration, principally electronic communications services, energy, banking and insurance. As these are regulated sectors for which I have no direct responsibility, the Deputy's question is more appropriate to the Ministers with responsibility for the sectors concerned.