London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — December 11, 2006 – U.K.-based switching web site uSwitch, that offers comparison advice on several topics, including the cost of energy, may have been misleading customers by favoring the company that pays the highest commission. Consumer watchdog energywatch has recently conducted audits of the main switching web sites to ensure that they conform to its new code of conduct, and several organizations have been asked to change the way they present their information.
Last week uSwitch announced that British Gas was likely to be the most expensive U.K. energy provider in 2007 (visit the link below for more) because it intended to lift its ‘price freeze’ in January. But uSwitch had not taken an online discount offered by the utility into account, although it had included a similar offering made by Powergen.
When users visit a web site to obtain price comparisons, and then switch utility provider, the site is paid a commission – usually £40 (US$78). The temptation exists to encourage customers to switch to the company that pays the best commission, rather than the one offering the best energy prices.
energywatch says that the new code of conduct is intended to restore customer faith in switching web sites. The watchdog will publish a list of accredited companies shortly; those companies that have failed to implement the changes asked for will lose accreditation.
Commenting on the British Gas case, a spokesman for uSwitch said there was no intention to deceive consumers – it was simply a question of how special offers were interpreted.