Energy companies fuel customer confusion

UK energy companies have been giving customers inaccurate information regarding energy prices, according to new research.

The leading energy suppliers have been found guilty of failing to inform consumers about the cheapest deals available when asked. 

An undercover investigation, led by Which?, revealed that nearly a third of the six major energy suppliers provided poor advice and recommended more expensive, fixed rate deals instead of 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 out of 12 calls.

“If you call an energy supplier asking for their cheapest deal, that’s exactly what you should get. It’s unacceptable for sales staff to give information that’s plain wrong or confusing,î suggested Which? Executive Director Richard Lloyd.

One third of sales staff across all six companies 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 already under investigation by Ofgem for overpricing and many have been fined for poor customer service. This fresh evidence provides more ammunition for the recent consumer rage against energy companies.

ìGiving 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,î continued Mr. Lloyd.

The hunt for cheaper energy is well under way as all six of the leading energy companies increased their prices by almost 20% earlier this year.

This could result in the winter bills reaching record highs, adding an extra £200 to the average dual fuel bill.

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 16% use comparison websites.

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