From ‘cheapest deals’ that aren’t the cheapest, to ‘free’ months of energy that save you less than £4, we have found some energy ads that aren’t what they seem.
Adverts from gas and electricity companies are a familiar sight throughout the year, with tempting offers for new or existing customers. We looked at energy adverts over more than a year and selected seven that we think could be misleading. These ads make tempting claims, either by promising money off or free energy, or by claiming to be the cheapest.
We asked more than 1,000 people for their views about these ads. Worryingly, for most of the ads we looked at, a high proportion of people said they would have been tempted to switch to the advertised deal and many believed that they were good offers.
The challenge of choosing the cheapest deal
An advert from EDF claimed that it was the cheapest for standard dual fuel out of all the major energy suppliers. Of the 1,000 people, three quarters agreed this ad implied EDF was cheaper than all the other energy suppliers. In fact, the cheapest dual fuel tariff at the time came from First Utility at £1,030. That’s £99 less than EDF’s standard tariff.
In the same period, British Gas also claimed to be the cheapest in one of its adverts. This time, the ad claimed British Gas had the cheapest standard electricity for average consumption of any major supplier. At the time, British Gas was cheapest for electricity, but not for dual fuel. And Npower claimed to be cheaper than British Gas. All very confusing, as our video shows:
Eon published an advert that offered customers two months’ worth of free energy. Nearly half of those we asked said this looked like an attractive deal. Unfortunately, the small print stated that ‘payment and online discounts [are] not available’. Customers on this deal would not receive the normal discounts of 8% for taking dual fuel and paying by direct debit. The actual added discount was only 0.33%, amounting to a £3.80 saving on the average annual bill.
We reported our findings to the energy companies. British Gas and EDF told us that they did not receive any complaints about their adverts. Eon apologised for its advert and told us that it withdrew the tariff following feedback.
Do you find some deals on energy adverts attractive? Would you be tempted to switch suppliers by an advert for an energy deal?
Do you trust adverts for energy deals?
No (84%, 218 Votes)
I'm not sure (14%, 37 Votes)
Yes (1%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 267