British Gas boycotts Big Switch

British Gas Big Switch

British Gas Big SwitchBritish Gas has announced its intention to boycott the Big Switch scheme set up by Which? to help families save money on their utility bills.

The initiative is an attempt to use the collective bargaining power of 215,000 customers to effectively bulk-buy energy deals and achieve cheaper tariffs for thousands of people like us - but the UK's biggest energy supplier isn't playing ball.

While you might think that British Gas is afraid of being beaten by its competitors in a price-war, or is unprepared to lower its prices to compete in the scheme, the UK giant says otherwise.

It insists that it "supports the principles of collective buying and switching" but is arguing that the proposals from Which? "fall short of being simple, transparent and fair for all customers".

The initiative is effectively a "reverse-auction" whereby the company offering the lowest tariff will win the contract.

The deal will then be offered to everyone who signed up by 31 March, but there will still be no obligation for people to switch if they decide they don't want to.

The energy provider is apparently concerned that its existing customers would suffer as they would be paying more than those who signed up for Big Switch, and the new customers will be benefiting from below-cost pricing.

It also insists that factors such as customer service standards and energy efficiency support should play a part alongside price, and claims that the scheme will actually create more complexity in the market with the addition of more tariffs.

Ian Peters, managing director of energy at British Gas, said: "We believe there should be more debate about the potential for collective buying and switching - with the aim of finding solutions that are genuinely in the long-term interest of customers."

In response, a Which spokesperson said: "Which? is a not-for-profit charity and has been clear that we would charge a fee to the winning supplier in order to cover our costs. The Big Switch is not about encouraging below cost pricing but rather establishing the best price for customers, many of whom are struggling with rising energy bills."

Here's how the Big Switch aims lower your energy bills.