Consumers misled by comparison site uSwitch to get compensation?
As we reported earlier this week, some of the biggest price comparison sites have been outed for not actually recommending the cheapest energy deal to customers looking for a switch-instead they have been suggesting those deals that earn them the most commission. Now, in front of the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC), the head of uSwitch has suggested that swindled consumers might even get some compensation…
The ECCC had already tabled an interview with the comparison sites, after concerns were raised in December that led to regulator Ofgem banning the sites from presenting a ‘selected’ sample of deals on an online search, instead of presenting what’s available across the market. When The Big Deal’s allegations of underhand tactics first emerged, many comparison providers claimed that they made it ‘clear’ to telephone enquirers that they were recommending the best deal from a limited selection, rather than from the whole market. Which makes it all OK, clearly.
However, under questioning by the ECCC, uSwitch CEO Steve Weller said: "As I mentioned, I'm sincerely disappointed that our service wasn't living up to the high standards we set out, and our procedures which were laid down weren't actually adhered to.”
He then confirmed that consumers were entitled to some redress if uSwitch’s actions with their agents had misled, saying "yes we will compensate them."
MPs also asked if the site would compensate other consumers who could show that they had been misled, and again, Mr Weller suggested that misled customers who ended up worse off could see some cashback: "If we are found at fault we do take active measures internally, but also if the customer is out of pocket and they would have selected that tariff or that option we can look at providing some financial compensation." All good news, although currently still vague and non-binding.
Comparison sites currently earn between around £29 and £60 for successfully brokering an energy switch, but only if the customer switches to a provider who pays this commission on switching. Similar sums can be earned by consumers themselves by using cashback sites like Quidco or Topcashback.