British Gas’ latest price-freeze product, Fix and Fall, has come under fire from rival energy company npower.
British Gas rolled out the Fix and Fall package this week, following news at the end of July that the Centrica-owned utility provider was to hike prices again. It is raising charges for gas by 12.4% and electricity by 9.4% from September 4.
Under the terms of Fix and Fall, if customers fix both gas and electricity prices at British Gas’s new September rates, there will be no more price rises for more than two years. Its website declares: “We guarantee at the end of next year your energy prices will actually fall by 5% until December 31, 2008. British Gas is the only supplier to offer this security.”
A spokesman at rival energy firm npower says the received wisdom among the energy industry is that while gas prices may fall in the next few years, electricity prices are certain to rise. This is because nuclear power stations are being decommissioned and electricity supply is uncertain.
SimplySwitch chief executive Karen Darby says she is not convinced prices are certain to rise. She adds: “All suppliers are using capped rates as a marketing ploy. The best advice is for consumers to look for a better deal now.”
Meanwhile, the ongoing BrandIndex survey from YouGov shows that British Gas’ score fell to minus 32 out of a maximum 100 points. YouGov says British Gas appears to be bearing the brunt of consumers’ dissatisfaction with the energy industry and rising prices.
EDF Energy also raised its prices last week and further increases in the sector are expected. The npower spokesman refused to confirm or deny a rise is imminent, while Eon-owned Powergen is thought to be preparing further rate hikes.