'An open letter to the energy select committee on comparison sites' blog discussion

2

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  • Former_MSE_Archna
    Former_MSE_Archna Posts: 1,903 Forumite
    First Post
    edited 7 February 2015 at 3:35PM
    Which? should have been questioned because it defaulted depending on commission but, unlike the five businesses that appeared, is a charity.

    Moneysavingexpert was represented because Peter Plumb of Moneysupermarket.com Group which owns MSE and two other comparison sites gave evidence.

    He was not questioned about CEC's top picks which is a device that leads people to more expensive tariffs that MSE earns commission on. Top pick for CEC's first collective switch for pre payment meters was utterly shocking exploitation. I checked for a vulnerable customer who would have been monstrously overcharged taking CEC's top pick compared to Ebico which does not pay CEC commission.

    I think I am correct in saying all seven so called top pick collective switch recommendations have not been the cheapest but all have paid CEC commission.

    I recommend that the bosses who appeared should all retitle themselves editors in chiefs, introduce editor's top picks, team up their editorial websites with editorial channels and stop paying to advertise. This is how CEC operates and it has an unfair advantage, the other comparison sites have no choice but to fully switch to saying they are journalistic businesses.

    I'm afraid you're wrong canterwest. We do include unaffiliated tariffs when they merit it. For example, we've included Co-Op when it didn't have commercial relationships with comparisons. You can't draw conclusions from any one day.

    As we say at the top of the top picks page it is to highlight tariffs we believe are worth considering even though they may not appear the very cheapest - both from a service, fix length, and special features system.

    We're not hiding anything - there is a very clear tab with all tariffs displayed, people use all of these tabs to get a full picture.

    I'm not sure how you can say our prepay deal was exploitation - we were extremely clear that while not the cheapest on the market, you got a voucher with it that made it competitive. We also pointed out people would need to switch at the end of the deal. We're the only collective scheme to have bothered to try and get a deal for prepay users and for that I am proud. And just to be clear at the time of the auction Ovo was the cheapest prepay fix on the market on average and it did pay commission as far as I can recall.

    I have worked here for a while and I know without a shadow of doubt, our users' best interests are at the heart of what we do - not commercial gain. This has always been the way and that has not changed since becoming part of the MSM Group. So I don't really get your point.
  • Archna, I was not saying that CEC excludes unaffiliated tariffs. My point was about your seven collective switch tariffs so far, which I believe have all been affiliated.


    (I know unaffiliated tariffs appear in your comparison table, and that I can click through).


    You will be tracking users. If the All Tariffs tab is being used, are you saying people are scrolling down through cheaper deals and signing up for the more expensive Sainsburys tariff?





    On vouchers, they are a call to action. Some of your view of them probably comes from how effective they are in converting sales. But they complicate what for some is a life saving decision and introduce risk, especially as CEC does not compensate its customers if vouchers do not arrive as promised, and this does happen. Ebico was cheapest for the low useage profile who also wanted no standing charge as they house sit to help make ends meet. I showed them the BG tariff and told them about the voucher. We disagree about what's best but thank you for providing the comparison table.


    Btw, there is a tariff on CEC that has a £50 exit penalty and £30 cashback. The same tariff on other comparison sites has no exit penalty and no cashback. This proves the danger with complicating tariffs, you can be shafted by a supplier doing a deal with CEC and then undermining your claims by agreeing a more favourable deal with a different commercial partner.


    As CEC is journalistic research, have you thought about the danger of a non paying cheapest supplier using comparison tables or commercial companies like The Big Deal to convert huge numbers of sales but then does not have energy contracts in place to supply, is forced to buy at higher prices and it all goes wonky?
  • My point was that we include unaffiliated tariffs in our top picks section when it merits it. The vast majority of suppliers have commercial relationships with suppliers, so just based on pure probability you will see affiliated links in there more often.

    Re this point:

    ]Btw, there is a tariff on CEC that has a £50 exit penalty and £30 cashback. The same tariff on other comparison sites has no exit penalty and no cashback. This proves the danger with complicating tariffs, you can be shafted by a supplier doing a deal with CEC and then undermining your claims by agreeing a more favourable deal with a different commercial partner.

    Can you let me know which tariff you're referring to, as this doesn't sound right or possible.

    Thanks
  • Fresh Fixed Price Feb 2016 v1 image_resize.php?name=images_suppliers%2F8701.gif&width=320&height=100&type=gif&quality=64 £899.60 Monthly Fixed Direct Debit £75.00 £215.66 savings per annum cross.pngtick.png
  • Hello Archna, on another comparison site this tariff is shown with a cross for No Exit Charge which I took to mean no exit charge!


    Thinking about it, the cross probably means there is an exit charge. Something for you to take up with Ofgem. Sorry for my mistake if a cross means there is an exit charge.
  • Well I switched. Just started paying to new provider & got my switching fee - all good so far.
    Came home to letter off debt collector who had been instructed by previous supplier for non-payment. Never had a bill, account only set up after much difficulty as only moved into house in Sept.
    No idea how the bill was calculated & ,to add insult to injury, there's an admin fee to pay!! Threat says if I don't pay now it will affect my credit rating.!
  • https://mobile.twitter.com/MartinSLewis/status/565946621582905344

    It will look very suspicious to change to more accurate projected savings the week after promoting a massive collective switch. Why not do it before and don't say Ofgem would not let you.
  • Lady_Cheshire
    Lady_Cheshire Posts: 1 Newbie
    edited 9 March 2015 at 5:19PM
    Just like to congratulate Money Saving Expert.com on all of their wonderful work with Switching Gas and Electricity suppliers, however, I think you should definitely also tell people how difficult it is to get any money that your supplier may have in their account that belongs to you!! What a complete nightmare Scottish Power have been for us. We changed supplier on December 6th 2014 and we are still fighting to get our balance of over £300 paid back to us. It's been an horrendous experience. It took them approximately 3 weeks to produce a final gas bill and 3 months to provide an electrcity bill (dual fuel account). They advised us not to close the direct debit account so any refunds could be paid back directly in to it. Then proceeded to take £70 after the account had been closed. Then they sent us a paper cheque. So now 3 months later and after many phone calls (from us) we have now been paid two thirds of the outstanding amount and have just been on the phone today to fight for the balance........ Grrrrrrrrrrr!! Yes switching is simple but DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS AS EASY TO GET YOUR MONEY BACK:j be prepared for huge amounts of stress!
  • anselld
    anselld Posts: 8,279 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    edited 7 April 2015 at 11:38PM
    The one thing I find potentially misleading with CEC and the other sites is that they calculate your current supply based on your current fix plus the remaining year on standard tarrif.

    This tends to make your current supply look increasingly uncompetitive as you move through your contract. Which in turn encourages you to switch prematurely.

    It is misleading to assume that the remaining year will be made up by a standard rate tarrif. It is more likely that a the user will switch when the tarrif ends. Whilst I understand it is impossible to predict what will actually be available when the current tarrif ends that should not be an excuse for a lazy comparison which favours early switching.
  • footyguy
    footyguy Posts: 4,157 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    anselld wrote: »
    The one thing I find potentially misleading with CEC and the other sites is that they calculate your current supply based on your current fix plus the remaining year on standard tarrif.

    ...

    It is misleading to assume that the remaining year will be made up by a standard rate tarrif. ....

    This is actually mandated by Ofgem.

    The theory being it would be misleading to represent savings/concosts against a tariff that may itself be ending shortly, and so could never be realised. If you do nothing, you go onto the suppliers standard tariff.

    Energyhelpline, as one example I know of, currently allows you to view both options.
    I understand the CEC is working on a similar solution (if not already implemented)
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