UK energy companies have mislead customers regarding energy prices, according to new research.
Leading energy suppliers have been found guilty of failing to inform consumers about the best and cheapest deals available when they were asked.
I an undercover investigation, led by Which?, it was revealed that almost a third of the six major energy suppliers provided poor advice and recommended their more expensive fixed rate deals instead of their cheaper online tariffs. The investigation involved calling up the energy firms on twelve separate occasions over the course of one week.
British Gas were found to offer their cheapest deal on a total of 10 out 12 occasions, compared to Southern Electric, where sales staff only mentioned the cheapest tariff on three of the 12 calls.
“If you call an energy supplier asking for their cheapest deal, that’s exactly what you should expect to get. It is unacceptable for sales staff to give information that’s plain wrong or confusing,” suggested Which? Executive Director, Richard Lloyd.
One third of sales staff across all six companies also failed to mention the relevant exit fees. Scottish Power has an exit fee of £51, yet failed to mention this in nine out of 12 calls.
The majority of the leading energy suppliers are under investigation by Ofgem for overpricing and many have also been fined for poor customer service. This fresh evidence provides more ammunition for the recent consumer dissent against energy companies.
“Giving the right advice to customers about switching matters more than ever when so many people are struggling with escalating fuel bills and colder weather is starting to bite,” continued Mr. Lloyd.
The search for cheaper energy is well under way as all six of the leading energy companies increased their prices by almost 20% earlier this year. It could result in winter fuel bills reaching record highs, adding as much as an extra £200 on average.
Customers looking to switch their energy supplier should look for the cheapest deal possible. When it comes to switching, 28% of consumers sign up on their doorstep, a further 38% do so via the telephone and only 16% use comparison websites.
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