Comparison Sites Under Fire for Hiding the Cheapest Energy Deals
With the news this week that energy comparison sites may not have been offering the cheapest deals to customers, the team here at Love Energy Savings has been keen to clarify that we will always provide you with the cheapest energy prices available. Five of the UK’s most prominent price comparison sites have been accused of covering up the best energy deals in order to make more money by the Big Deal.
The Big Deal, who themselves look to drive down energy costs for consumers, hit the news at the start of the week as their accusation made it onto many areas of the media including BBC Breakfast news. They have suggested that any consumers opting for the “switch today” option on sites such as GoCompare, uSwitch et al, will have the lower commission or commission free options filtered out, due to the fact that these are not in the economic interest of the comparison site in question. The Big Deal have written to uSwitch, GoCompare, MoneySuperMarket, CompareTheMarket and Confused.com to officially complain about the mechanism which they believe is grossly unfair.
In Line With Regulations?
In response to these claims, all of the big comparison sites have responded by stating that they are incorrect and that they adhere to the regulator’s code of practice regarding energy prices. Ofgem has already stated recently that they will be updating their guidelines to give more protection to energy customers, so we can expect to see this changing pretty soon.
The Big Deal also argue in their letter, that customers are only shown the best deals if they click “No” to switching immediately and that sites often default to the “Yes” option, making it even harder for customers to get the best value offers, something which is surely in contrary to the ethos of these sites which should be to make the best savings for energy shoppers. Around a third of energy deals are hidden in this manner according to The Big Deal.
What Are The Comparison Sites Saying?
As mentioned, the sites in question are defending their conduct and are adamant that they are conforming by the standards set by the industry watchdog, whether these are set to change or not. Below are the responses from the sites that have chosen to comment:
"The option for customers to filter results - to only see products they can buy through MoneySuperMarket.com - is displayed clearly and prominently, and is necessary as some providers choose not to list products on comparison websites." Dan Plant, Editor in Chief at MoneySuperMarket
"Some suppliers do not make certain tariffs available through comparison sites, so we give customers the option to exclude these from the results," Kate Rose, Head of Energy at Confused.com
GoCompare simply stated that it does not have the “switch now” or “buy today” options and make it perfectly clear that there are other options. This does beg the question of why they do not display the cheapest tariff at all times, seen as they market themselves as a cost cutting website.
These price comparison websites are part of Ofgem’s Consumer Confidence Code which protects switchers from illicit deals. But with the standards set to change, we could well see some much needed transparency made mandatory on generic comparison sites as well as energy specialists such as ourselves.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), who have been assisting Ofgem with its inquiry into the conduct of the Big Six Energy Suppliers, have also been contacted by The Big Deal regarding this matter and they have confirmed that they will indeed look into this as part of their wider and ongoing project.
Although we are not in the business of attacking or criticising our rivals at Love Energy Savings, we are pretty passionate about making the energy sector a fairer and more transparent place. As such, we never hide any deals from you via our comparison engine, you always get the best prices from the tariffs that suit your business or home energy requirements. Why not give our engine a go today to see how much you can save on your gas and electricity?