BRITISH GAS 'HIDING' PS200 OFF BILL DEAL; Sainsbury's customers get fuel from same supplier but it's cheaper.
Byline: STEPHEN HAYWARD Consumer Correspondent
BRITISH Gas is "hiding" a cheap energy deal from its own customers which could save them almost PS200.
Under an agreement with Sainsbury's, British Gas provides a separate gas and electricity tariff which carries the supermarket logo.
At PS999 a year, the fixed price Sainsbury's Energy tariff is PS185 cheaper than an almost identical British Gas deal that works out at PS1,184 a year.
Yet millions of households are missing out on the savings because a loophole in industry rules means British Gas does not have to disclose the cheaper deal.
Regulator Ofcom says a supplier is supposed to tell customers if they can save money by switching to an alternative tariff within the same company. But the rules don't apply as the cheaper tariff carries the supermarket's branding, not British Gas.
Yet call centre staff and sales teams are the same for both.
Labour energy spokesman Caroline Flint stormed: "It's outrageous that energy firms are allowed to get away with hiding cheaper deals. If British Gas can sell energy for almost PS200 a year less with a Sainsbury's logo, there's no reason why they shouldn't cut bills for ordinary customers too."
However, the 11 million households paying over the top will have to wait until next December before tougher rules come into force that will close the loophole. British Gas said the deals were different as Sainsbury's was a "no frills service".