ASA bans ‘misleading’ electricity and gas tariff advert

A utility retailer has been ordered to take down a 'misleading' advert for gas and electricity tariffs from its website following a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA).

Telecom Plus plc, which trades as The Utility Warehouse, claimed its ‘triple guarantee guaranteed savings wherever you live’, that their prices remain competitive with the cheapest tariffs from the ‘big six’, that they were guaranteed to be cheaper than British Gas and cheaper than regional suppliers.

The company argued that the triple value guarantee would be interpreted as suggesting savings were available to a substantial number of households in each region, and that ‘competitive’ did not necessarily mean the cheapest.

Telecom Plus also said their claim they were cheaper than British Gas and regional suppliers was to be read in conjunction with the headline “gas and electricity with a 10 per cent extra discount after 12 months. They even supplied ASA with spreadsheets relating to competitors tariffs to support their argument.

The ASA ruled that the advert was misleading the small print may be missed on the site, and that the dual fuel claim were likely to be interpreted as relating to two aspects of a dual fuel tariff, rather than as distinct comparisons with standard electricity and gas tariffs.

From the figures provided, ASA found that Utility Warehouse were more expensive than at least one and up to five of their rivals, with a difference of up to £90. ASA ruled that this was ‘competitive’ was misleading.

Telecom Plus was also told to ensure their future advertising did not include claims, “implied or otherwise” that they had the lowest dual fuel prices if that was not the case, and not to imply their prices were more competitive than was the case.