Are British Gas Business lying to customers and providing fake prices?
Energy suppliers with fraudulent misrepresentation? This isn’t something new.
Ofgem has received a total of £44 million in fines from energy suppliers in the last few years alone. Corruption and fraudulent activity have been going on for years in the energy industry. Some of the biggest companies are involved in this too.
So, what have they done this time?
Firstly, let’s talk about British Gas Business. Through misrepresentation, they seem to have been using false information in an attempt to persuade customers to agree on a contract online with them. The product British Gas Lite is available to customers online, as well as through TPI Partners.
By using fake numbers, customers are being lied to. When shopping online, you’d expect companies to provide correct and trustworthy information, right? By using incorrect TPI prices, customers will be more likely to purchase energy online, rather than the TPI, cutting them out of the picture, fraudulently.
Below, we have some screenshots from the British Gas Business quote page. Using different MPAN’s and addresses, we can clearly see that the prices vary for the British Gas Lite product if bought today through their website versus against the price from a TPI partner.
Let’s take a look at the examples:
Now, we’ve hidden the MPAN and address for obvious reasons, however, we inputted the same usage for each address, hoping to see that British Gas don’t have different prices for when using a partner.
However, as you can see, when purchasing a 1 year direct product through the website, you’re looking at £8,620.30. Meanwhile, when using a partner, the price jumps to £20,354.
Below are two more examples, using different addresses but the same usage.
For both examples, the price is higher when using a partner, by a long way. Now, the part that we want to highlight comes from Simon Askew. His findings have shown that when using the same details, but quoted through a TPI quoting portal, the prices are widely different. Check out the image below.
In Simon’s example, the direct British Gas Lite quote from their website was £10,218.30 and the TPI partner price was £23430.66. Now, underneath, there is another screenshot. This is the exact same customer but quoted through a TPI quoting portal. Here, the annual cost is only £10818, so an astonishing £12612.66 less than British Gas inform customers it would be.
Worryingly, the majority of consultants would issue lower priced quotes than the prices customers could get online. Furthermore, most of them wouldn’t build in the 1.5p kWh maximum commission. This is important, as knowing the commission is 1.5p KWh shows that British Gas are lying about the prices.
Below are some more examples, this time coming from Scottish Power. You can see the difference between online prices versus those with a TPI.
This isn’t just a one-off event. The high Partner prices are detailed across all terms, areas and supply types. It is just that British Gas Business has done it deliberately. Ofgem needs to take action and look into this. It is time to investigate.
Is this fraud? Well, you could class this as the deliberate use of dishonesty or deception, possibly leading to loss. The whole TPI industry has been inadvertently defamed.
One of the scariest parts about this is that we are looking at one of the UK’s largest energy suppliers doing this. You could say it is worse than some of the fraudulent broker activity we have seen over the last few years.
For customers that have agreed to contracts at these high prices, will they have an opportunity to break their contracts when the market becomes more stable? You could say this is incredible timing from the big energy supplier.
The main point we’re trying to make is that British Gas have faked the TPI prices. The only explanation is to cut out the TPI, coercing customers into purchasing contracts with them online, trusting the energy supplier to be giving correct and true information.
So Ofgem, as well as the misrepresentation and false information, would this be a breach of Standard Licence Conditions too? Keep your eyes peeled, this could be a bumpy few months in the energy industry.