TheBigDeal.com press release, 10th March 2016 - The CMA propose "a return to the dark days of deal-hiding."
The Competition and Markets Authority, which has been investigating the state of the UK energy market for nearly two years, today published its provisional remedies.
In a largely unnoticed remedy, the CMA are proposing that price comparison websites should be able hide from consumers deals that don't earn them commission. This means removing the requirement for Ofgem accredited comparison sites to show a "whole of market" comparison.
In 2014, TheBigDeal.com and The Sun revealed that this practice often meant that switchers could not see the cheapest deals for them.
Responding, Will Hodson, co-founder of consumer collective TheBigDeal.com, said:
"With suppliers refusing to give us a fair price, it's now crucial that comparison sites show us the best deal. Instead, the CMA seek a return to the dark days of deal-hiding. Not only has the government watchdog backed down from the Big Six, they've also caved in to the comparison sites."
Will Hodson is available for interview.
Notes for editors
TheBigDeal.com is a consumer collective focused on reducing people's energy bills. We bring together tens of thousands of consumers and use our collective buying power to create exclusive deals.
Launched in March 2014, we now have over 100,000 members and continue to grow. 62% of our members have never or hardly ever switched before - these are the very people who have been let down by the energy market for too long. Moreover, 60% of our members are over the age of 55 and 30% over the age of 65. We have saved the British public over £5 million since we launched.
TheBigDeal.com is a start up business and charges a commission to energy companies. Unlike price comparison websites we are 100% transparent and publish the exact amount of our commission. For our current switch that is £40 for a dual fuel (both gas and electricity) switch. This compares to £50 to £100 for the main price comparison websites.
TheBigDeal.com research exposes price comparison sites' dodgy behaviour online and over the phone
On 20th October 2014, TheBigDeal.com published research that showed that the Big Five switching websites (Go Compare, Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, uSwitch and Confused) all hide the cheapest deals from users because they don't get paid by energy companies for them. The full research including over 200 screenshots taken over 13 weeks can be found at: https://thebigdeal.com/blog/research-into-price-comparison-websites
On 2nd February 2015, TheBigDeal.com published similar research except into activity over the phone that found that all the Big Five switching websites (Go Compare, Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, uSwitch and Confused) hid the cheapest deal when talking to customers.
This research led to an official investigation into the behaviour of the Big Five price comparison websites by the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/energy-and-climate-change-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/energy-price-comparison-websites/
The energy regulator Ofgem also tightened up the rules around comparison sites following our investigation: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30912626