Big Six accused in costly tariffs row - Business News - Business - The Independent

Big Six accused in costly tariffs row

Energy salesmen 'used dubious tactics'

Energy firms came under fresh fire last night after evidence came to light of them using dubious sales tactics to sell expensive tariffs.

Undercover researchers discovered that anyone who switched tariff based on the sales patter of in-store representatives of the big energy companies could be worse off by hundreds of pounds.

Energy companies' salespeople in supermarkets and shopping centres told researchers they would make annual savings of between £20 and £142. But the customers would actually have been between £39 and £311 worse off if they had taken up the deals, according to Which?.

In a separate investigation of energy companies' call centres, people who called up and asked for the cheapest deal did not always get accurate information and quotes. British Gas and Eon got it wrong, Which? said.

Meanwhile, when researchers asked salespeople in supermarkets and shopping centres about better deals, only two out of 13 admitted there might be better deals available. The news comes as pressure mounted on the Big Six energy firms to offer fairer prices and help vulnerable people in fuel poverty.

By last night, more than 86,000 people had signed up to the Big Switch prices campaign being run by Which? with online campaigners 38 Degrees. Meanwhile the "End the Big Six Energy Fix" fuel-poverty campaign launched in The Independent last week has attracted 7,000 supporters.

Discussing the sales tactics used by energy companies, Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?, said: "It's simply not good enough for energy salespeople to be quoting misleading individual savings to people who sign up to switch in supermarkets."

Which? researchers spoke to reps from SSE (selling M&S Energy tariffs), British Gas (selling Sainsbury's Energy deals), EDF Energy and Eon. They posed as customers who did not have the name of their tariff or their consumption figures with them. They said they only knew the name of their energy supplier and how much they were paying a month.

They were told by salespeople that by switching to Sainsbury's Energy Standard tariff they would be better off by up to £68. But they would actually have been worse off by up to £311, said Which?.

Over at M&S, salespeople told researchers they would be up to £46 better off with the the M&S Energy Standard rate, but Which? calculated that switching would leave people up to £95 worse off.

The energy firms hit back at Which?'s figures saying their researchers were given estimates and therefore it didn't make for a fair comparison. But Richard Lloyd said: "It's little wonder that trust in the energy sector is so low."

Case study: 'It's like a cartel'

Rita Young, 76, a widow from Peterborough, lives on pension and pension credit

"I'm a widow. I live on £161 per week, £63 of that goes on fuel. It's not pleasant. I make sure I don't get up until late so I don't have to put the heating on. I stay in bed and watch television in the morning rather than get up. That saves another couple of hours of fuel. I turn it off an hour before I go to bed at 9 o'clock, that way you save a bit.

"I wear lots of cardigans and use lots of blankets. It's annoying, I've got things I want to do but you've got to spend your day thinking about fuel.

"I get my state pension and, at present, pension credit, but even that they're cutting out from April so I'm going to be losing £3 a week on my pension credit. When the state pension goes up £5 a week, I'll only get a £2 increase. I'm with E.ON but all the suppliers are the same – one puts it up then all the others put it up. It's like a cartel. They're not doing anything to help us."

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

£280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Training Coordinator / Resource Planner - City, London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator / Pl...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week