Third of firms fail to offer consumers cheapest deal

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Energy companies are giving inaccurate information and dodgy advice to people who ring up to switch providers, consumer watchdog Which? said today.

Despite clearly being asked for the cheapest deal, in nearly a third of calls made to the six major energy suppliers during an undercover investigation the companies failed to offer their lowest tariff.

Staff also gave questionable advice about potential savings, cashback deals and fixed prices. Which? found that Southern Electric telesales staff only mentioned the company's cheapest tariff in three of the 12 calls made to it over a week, while seven of the 12 EDF Energy salespeople recommended its more expensive, fixed-rate deals instead of its cheaper, online tariff.

British Gas staff offered its cheapest tariff in 10 of the 12 calls, but with wildly varying cashback deals, ranging from no money to £175.

Across all the companies, one-third of the staff questioned did not mention relevant exit fees. The watchdog also found that offers varied within the same region.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: "If you call an energy supplier asking for their cheapest deal, that's exactly what you should get."