‘Loyalty penalty’ super-complaint

The CMA investigated concerns that people who stay with their provider can end up paying significantly more than new customers, following a super-complaint from Citizens Advice into this matter.


Date Action
27 December 2018 Statutory deadline for CMA response
19 December 2018 CMA response to super-complaint published
28 September 2018 Super-complaint from Citizens Advice received



Loyalty penalty update: July 2020

This update considers progress since our last update in January 2020.

Loyalty penalty update: 12 months on

This update sets out the work and progress that has been made 12 months after our investigation into the loyalty penalty.

Loyalty penalty update: getting better and fairer deals

Last year the CMA responded to concerns raised by Citizens Advice in a super-complaint about the loyalty penalty. This update sets out the work and progress that has been made following our investigation.

Government response

18 June 2019: The secretary of state has responded to the CMA’s recommendations to regulators and government.

Loyalty Penalty Working Group

Following the publication of the CMA’s response to the loyalty penalty super-complaint, the CMA has set up a working group to oversee the implementation of recommendations made by the CMA. It is chaired by the CMA and its members include representatives from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Ofcom, Ofgem, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), HM Treasury (HMT) and the UK Regulators Network (UKRN).

An update on progress will be published in summer 2019.

Response to super-complaint

19 December 2018: The CMA has responded to a super-complaint by Citizens Advice, which raised concerns that not enough has been done to tackle the loyalty penalty being paid by longstanding customers in five markets: mobile; broadband; cash savings; home insurance and mortgages.

We have set out a package of reforms, both across markets and specifically in relation to the five markets identified by Citizens Advice. We believe these will achieve real changes and help existing customers get a fair deal.

We have also launched investigations in the anti-virus software market, as a first step in a wider programme of enforcement in this area.

We will provide an update on our progress to the Consumer Forum in six months. An update will also be published on our website.

Summary of super-complaint

The CMA received a super-complaint from Citizens Advice raising concerns about long term customers paying more for goods and services, which it refers to as ‘the loyalty penalty’. Citizens Advice has identified five key markets where it has concerns about the loyalty penalty, covering telecoms and financial services. These are: mobile, broadband, savings accounts, mortgages and household insurance.

What is a super-complaint?

The Enterprise Act 2002 (the Act) makes provision for designated consumer bodies to make super-complaints. A super-complaint, as defined by section 11(1) of the Act, is a complaint submitted by a designated consumer body that ‘any feature, or combination of features, of a market in the United Kingdom for goods or services is or appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers’. Citizens Advice is a designated consumer body. Within 90 days after the day on which a super-complaint is received, the CMA must say publicly how it proposes to deal with it.

Sabrina Basran, Project Manager at the CMA explains how a super-complaint works

What is a super-complaint?

More information about what super-complaints are available in our short guide. Information on the process and who can make super-complaints can be found in our guidance ‘How consumer bodies can make super-complaints’.

How to give your views - now closed

Our invitation to comment has now closed. The deadline for submitting evidence to the CMA was 14 October 2018. We sought responses to the following questions:

  1. What are your views on the existence, impact and root causes of a ‘loyalty penalty’ for consumers across markets; including the five identified by Citizens Advice (mobile, broadband, savings accounts, home insurance and mortgages) and any others?
  2. Are there circumstances in which you think a ‘loyalty penalty’ is not problematic at all or where it is particularly problematic, and if so why?
  3. What specific additional challenges do vulnerable consumers experience and should there be additional protections?
  4. What measures to tackle any ‘loyalty penalty’ should be considered, including those suggested by Citizens Advice and any others? Please explain how these measures would effectively address the problem.
Published 28 September 2018
Last updated 13 July 2020 + show all updates
  1. Update on the loyalty penalty work published.

  2. 12-month progress update published.

  3. The CMA will publish a further update on progress made in taking forward our recommendations in January.

  4. Six month progress update published.

  5. Terms of reference published for the Loyalty Penalty Working Group

  6. The CMA's response to the super-complaint has been published and added to the page, as well as a link to an executive summary, glossary and annexes.

  7. Invitation to comment has now closed. Statutory deadline for CMA response added to timetable.

  8. First published.