Comparison sites ‘hide best deals’

Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Consumers are missing out on the best energy deals because comparison sites filter out the tariffs which do not pay commission, it was claimed today.

The Big Deal website, which was set up last year to help consumers find cheaper energy bills, said all five of the major price comparison websites hid the cheapest deals from customers.

It said the sites ask users if they want to see tariffs they can switch to “today” or “now”. Clicking “yes” filters out the deals which do not earn the comparison site a commission from the energy company.

The comparison sites have denied hiding the best deals and said their websites are transparent and in compliance with Ofgem’s code of practice.

The Big Deal has written a letter of compaint to Compare the Market, Go Compare, uswitch, MoneySuperMarket and after its research claimed that almost a third of deals were hidden.

The website has also sent its letter to Energy Secretary Ed Davey and said it wants the Competition and Markets Authority to expand its investigation of the the energy market to include the activities of price comparison websites.

The Big Deal said: “The price comparison sites are worth hundreds of millions of pounds, make huge profits and, with over five million people switching a year, are a major part of the energy market. Yet there is no transparency to how they make their money or how much they charge.”

It quoted a poll by Populus which found that 43% of people did not realise that the sites charge energy companies a commission.

The Big Deal wants price comparison firms to remove the “today” button option and publish the amount of commission received from each energy company.

Uswitch said: “We are fully accredited under the Ofgem Confidence Code, meaning that our results tables are always ordered by the savings a customer can make in a fair, independent and unbiased way. We are fully supportive of Ofgem’s decision to strengthen the code to ensure that all price comparison websites operate to the same high standard.

“Customers have the clear option to compare plans across the whole energy market on our site. We do not pre-select a default answer when giving them this choice, nor do we in any way influence what they should select.

Dan Plant, editor-in-chief of MoneySuperMarket, said: “The option for customers to filter results to only see products they can buy through is displayed clearly and prominently, and is necessary as some providers choose not to list products on comparison websites.

“This adheres to Ofgem’s Confidence Code which sets out how energy should be compared. Currently the cheapest 10 tariffs on the market are shown to all customers using our website – switching to one of these would save many households hundreds of pounds per year.”

Published: Monday 20th October 2014 by The News Editor

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