Today (October 13) the details of an undercover investigation by consumer organisation Which? are revealed.

An investigator from the magazine called each of the ‘Big Six’ 12 times in one week asking for the cheapest deal.

However, in nearly a third of the calls the firms failed to offer their cheapest tariff and staff also gave what the investigator called ‘questionable advice’ about potential savings, cashback deals and fixed prices.

Npower perfomed the best in the tests answering seven of the calls within two minutes, 10 times offering the cheapest deal and 10 times correctly telling the caller about exit fees.

The company understandably said it was ‘delighted’ by the findings however EDF Energy who came last out of the ‘Big Six’ said it would look at the investigation and ‘learn lessons’ from it.

All 12 of EDF Energy’s salespeople recommended its more expensive fixed-rate deals instead of its cheaper online tariff.

While the Caller also found Southern Electric telesales staff only mentioned its cheapest tariff in three of the 12 calls.

Across all the companies, one third of the salespeople did not mention relevant exit fees, and Scottish Power failed to reveal its £51 exit fees in nine of the 12 calls.

British Gas staff offered its cheapest tariff in 10 of the 12 calls but offered wildly varying cashback deals alongside this tariff, ranging from £0 to £175.

Offers varied significantly even within the same region – a caller from one London postcode was offered £125 cashback and another was offered nothing.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “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. 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.”

Luke Walsh

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