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MPs say sites were hiding commissions

Price comparison sites ordered to pay compensation for unfair deals

Electricity billEnergy price comparison sites have been ordered to compensate customers who did not get the deals they may have been expecting.

Some changed to tariffs that may not have been the cheapest deals because the sites were not telling customers which paid the sites commissions.

The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee said trust in such sites was paramount and by filtering out suppliers that did not pay commission, the sites were not giving a fair choice, MPs said..

Tim Yeo, the committee’s chairman, said: “Some energy price comparison sites have been behaving more like backstreet market traders than the trustworthy consumer champions they make themselves out to be in adverts on TV.

“Some comparison sites have used misleading language to dupe consumers into opting for default options that only display commission-earning deals.

“And others have previously gone so far as to conceal deals that do not earn them commission behind multiple drop-down web options.”

The committee wants energy regulator Ofgem to look at asking these sites s to disclose the amount of commission they get for each customer switch made, at the point of sale.

The comparison site uSwitch said that it had helped households save £112m on energy bills last year but it said that it had made compensation payments to some customers.

A spokesman for Ofgem said: “Ofgem shares the Select Committee’s view that consumers should be able to trust price comparison websites and particularly those accredited by Ofgem. This is important as consumers can save around £200 by switching and the websites can play an important role in helping them compare deals.

“We have set much tougher requirements for the sites we accredit, so consumers should feel confident using them to find a better deal for their energy. This includes banning sites from hiding cheaper deals from consumers and making their commission arrangements much clearer. Most accredited sites are already complying with our new rules.

“Following Ofgem’s referral, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is now considering the role of price comparison sites as part of its wider review of the energy market. We will carefully consider the Committee’s recommendations alongside the CMA’s findings.”

 

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