Calortex, the independent gas supplier, has attacked British Gas Trading’s “15 per cent off” advertising campaign, accusing the energy giant of “gross misrepresentation”.
It has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the campaign.
The company’s commercial director Neil Lambert says: “People may be under the impression they can get a 15 per cent reduction, but this only affects ten per cent of customers. It is gross misrepresentation, trying to confuse consumers.”
The BGT ads promise “15 per cent off”, but in the small print the ad explains that this saving is obtained by comparing the charge to direct debit customers with the charge for people who use an average amount of gas and pay their bills by cash or cheque more than ten days late.
British Gas claims 6.75 million customers who pay their bills more than ten days late by cash or cheque stand to benefit from a 15 per cent cut. A spokesman says “15 per cent off” is an example of possible savings, and the ads offer a response number to give exact details. “It is such a complicated message to get across simply,” he adds.
Calortex’s criticism comes as it launches a 500,000 press campaign which claims British Gas customers can save 21 per cent by changing to Calortex. It uses the same comparison as the BGT ad.
BGT director of marketing and strategy Jon Kinsey comments: “Just about every customer will experience price reductions – there are 6 million people already on direct debit who will get a further nine per cent off. Others will get price reductions across the board. The average is 15 per cent.”