Group General Manager of Co-Operative Energy, Ramsay Dunning, yesterday appeared on Sky News, accusing energy switching sites of increasing energy bills and misleading consumers.
“Switching sites increase prices to customers,” said Dunning. “They are taking a lot of money out of the system now. They also have a tendency to mislead customers.”
He also called for the creation of a government energy switching site.
The claims were vehemently denied by uSwitch and energy regulator Ofgem, which both issued responses.
‘Accredited comparison services are part of the solution and to suggest otherwise is nonsense’
uSwitch vigorously denied the claims made by Dunning and issued the following statement: “This is really depressing as price comparison services such as our own have been doing all we can to champion small suppliers and to help consumers in the face of higher energy prices.
“The fact is that Ofgem accredited comparison services such as our own are part of the solution and to suggest otherwise is an absolute nonsense.
“Our service is free for consumers to use and over 90% of our visitors simply gather information and advice – they don’t go on to switch. We are upfront and open about the fact that this is paid for by fees we receive from suppliers when somebody switches – we receive no other funding. The commission we receive also pays for our call centre so that we can help those who aren’t online.
“The important thing is that we will always show somebody the cheapest deal for their needs regardless of whether we have a commercial agreement in place with that supplier or not.
“The reality is that comparison sites are a very cheap method for suppliers to acquire new customers in a fair and unbiased way. To suggest that we are helping to push up the cost of energy is simply ridiculous.”
‘Price comparison sites play an important role in helping consumers compare deals’
Ofgem also commented on the issue and said: “Price comparison sites play an important role in helping consumers compare deals. Ofgem has taken over the running of the code of practice for such sites and we are reviewing it to ensure that its objectives are in line with our reforms for a simpler, clearer, fairer energy market. We will be consulting on this in Spring.
“The code of practice is there to protect consumers in a number of ways. For example, switching sites have to state which suppliers they earn commission from. They also have to make sure that they do not rank tariffs in accordance with the suppliers from which they are earning commission.”