By Marcus Leach
The biggest energy companies are giving inaccurate information and dodgy advice to people who ring up to switch their gas and electricity deal, the latest Which? investigation has found.
In an undercover probe, we called each of the six major energy suppliers 12 times in one week and asked for the cheapest deal.
Disappointingly, in nearly a third of the calls the firms failed to offer their cheapest tariff. Staff also gave questionable advice about potential savings, cashback deals and fixed prices.
"If you call an energy supplier asking for their cheapest deal, that's exactly what you should get. It’s unacceptable for sales staff to give information that’s plain wrong or confusing," Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said.
"Giving the right advice to customers about switching matters more than ever when so many people are struggling with escalating fuel bills and colder weather is starting to bite."
Npower and Eon scored highest overall in our investigation. Both told us about their cheapest tariff and highlighted relevant exit fees in most calls.
Southern Electric scored poorly as its telesales staff only mentioned its cheapest tariff in three of the 12 calls.
It said there would not have been a massive difference between the tariffs that it offered — its Fixed Discount tariff is only 2% cheaper than its standard tariff — but we can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t have been offered the cheapest tariff in every call.
Seven of the 12 EDF Energy salespeople recommended its more expensive fixed-rate deals instead of its cheaper online tariff. EDF has told us that its online deals are intended to be sold online but its advisers should tell prospective customers there are cheaper deals online and they can, in certain circumstances, switch to these over the phone.
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