At a time when clarity in costing and pricing is becoming all important to the UK’s beleaguered homeowners, the tactics of Britain’s largest energy companies are being called into question.
Consumer experts catch companies out
There is little doubt that the cost of energy, fuel, household insurance and food is responsible for a big slice of the inflation cake that is currently rising on the back burner of the UK economy. While financiers and politicians warn of a double dip recession households throughout the country are taking the advice of experts and trying to find the best deals available to them, unfortunately according to consumer champion Which, when it comes to asking energy companies the best deal you cannot trust their answer.
Many prefer to use the phone
Of course many millions of people use computers and the internet to find out how they can cut their bills, the use of home insurance comparison sites and energy comparison sites such as Uswitch are now commonplace. However, not everyone is comfortable using such sites, and many prefer using the phone to find the best deal. This is exactly the method employed by Which investigators and the results were disturbing to say the least.
Poor response from providers
Researchers from Which called each of the six major energy companies over the space of 7 days. They asked for the cheapest deal according to their circumstances and noted the results. Southern Electric only managed to correctly guide the callers to the cheapest in 25% of the calls and fared worst of all the providers; however, they were not alone in giving poor service. EDF only came up with the cheapest deal for the consumer in 5 of the calls and Scottish Power failed to tell 75% of the researchers that they charged a £51 exit fee for those changing suppliers.
Why so many tariffs?
The secret research led a spokesman for Southern Electric to say there was a case for their call centre staff to be given more training but said there was little difference in the tariffs suggested to the one that was actually cheapest. Amazingly, Which believe that the leading 6 energy suppliers have over a thousand different tariffs available and the real question is; are the tariffs in place to give more choice to the customer or to confuse them?