MSE complaint sparks energy regulator’s investigation into British Gas

MSE evidence showed customers wrongly told they’d have to pay up to £60 to switch

- MSE evidence showed customers wrongly told they’d have to pay up to £60 to switch

- British Gas under investigation and Ofgem talking to Npower and E.on

- “How can you trust firms who pump out such crap?” asks Martin Lewis

The energy regulator Ofgem is investigating British Gas after a formal complaint submitted by the UK’s biggest consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com revealed customers approaching the end of their fixed-term tariff were wrongly told they would have to pay up to £60 to switch.

Ofgem will examine whether the UK’s biggest energy supplier breached licensing conditions relating to customers who wanted to change to a different provider. The regulator's rules on switching are extremely clear - if you're in the last 49 days of your fix, you DON'T have to pay an exit fee and can switch to a different provider penalty-free.

MoneySavingExpert.com sent a formal letter of complaint to Ofgem about the issue in March, along with a dossier of evidence showing how customers have been misinformed.

MSE initially reported the problems in December after information sent to some British Gas and Npower customers wrongly stated that customers leaving their fixed tariffs early would have to pay exit fees. In January MSE received further complaints from its users about Npower and E.on misinforming customers. The regulator says it is talking to these providers separately over their exit fee policies - but it has not launched an investigation into either company.

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “The rules are very plain; you cannot and should not be charged exit penalties if your switchover takes place within the last 49 days of your energy fix. At least two firms – British Gas and Npower – have wrongly put that they would charge in their official literature. At best they are careless in the way they treat customers; at worst that they are trying to bully them into staying with misinformation. How can you trust firms who pump out such crap? I’m delighted that Ofgem is getting tough with them following our investigation.”

An Ofgem spokesperson said:"Energy suppliers are obliged to waive any termination fees for domestic customers wishing to switch supplier in the period of 49 days before their fixed deal comes to an end. We have reviewed the evidence received to date, after MoneySavingExpert raised this issue, and will be conducting a thorough investigation to establish whether British Gas failed to comply with the conditions of its licence."

-ends-

Notes to editors

· See the original investigation into incorrect exit fees information, published 9 December 2016:

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/energy/2016/12/british-gas-and-npower-wrongly-tell-those-with-energy-fixes-ending-they-face-exit-fees-to-switch

· See further reports of misinformation, published 27 January 2017:

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/energy/2017/01/energy-firms-still-wrongly-telling-those-with-energy-fixes-ending-they-face-exit-fees-to-switch

· See the MSE news story about its formal letter of complaint, published 6 March 2017:

http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/energy/2017/03/regulator-to-quiz-energy-firms-over-exit-fees-after-mse-investigation

For more comments, please contact:

Katie Watts

Tel: 020 3846 2631

Mob: 07875 415 378
katie.watts@moneysavingexpert.com

About Martin Lewis: Martin Lewis OBE, Money Saving Expert, is the journalist and consumer campaigner who created MoneySavingExpert.com and is now the site’s Executive Chair. Martin also founded and chairs the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute charity.

He’s the UK’s most-googled man, Citizens Advice’s Consumer Champion of the Year, and has spearheaded major financial justice campaigns including bank charges reclaiming (over seven million template letters downloaded), PPI reclaiming (over six million) and a successful large-scale campaign to get financial education in schools. He has his own prime-time ITV programme, The Martin Lewis Money Show, as well as a range of other regular media slots. He was appointed OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2014.

About MoneySavingExpert.com: MoneySavingExpert.com is dedicated to cutting consumers’ bills and fighting their corner. The free-to-use consumer finance help resource aims to show people how to save money on anything and everything, and campaigns for financial justice. It was set up in 2003 for just £100, and its free-to-use, ethical stance quickly made it the UK’s biggest independent money website, according to internet ranking site Alexa.com, and the number one ‘Business and Finance – Business Information’ site, according to Hitwise. It has more than 12 million people opted-in to receive the weekly MSE’s Money Tips email, and more than 16 million unique monthly site users who visit more than 28 million times a month. In September 2012, it joined the MoneySupermarket.com Group PLC.