British Gas 'free gas' offer dubbed misleadingBritish Gas rapped by advert watchdog ASA

08 July 2009

A blue flame from a gas hob

Although there is no 'green gas', you can still switch your energy supplier to a green tariff

A British Gas advert offering free gas for a year has been dubbed misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ad, which was mailed to British Gas customers, offered 'free gas for a year' to those who bought a boiler through the utility company, but the refund promised was likely to fall short of their annual bill cost, the ASA found.

British Gas - which was rated poorly by its gas and electricity customers in the Which? annual utility customer survey - did not make clear in the offer that the refund offer was based on 2007 prices.

Which? boiler price probe

Which? compared boiler fitting quotes from British Gas and independent heating engineers who feature on our recommendations site, Which? Local, in February 2009, in a snapshot survey. We found that British Gas charged up to twice as much as the lowest priced independent engineer for the same job.

Which? has also surveyed thousands of energy company customers - see which energy suppliers were rated the best in our utility companies report. You can also check out Which? Best Buy boilers.

Free gas offer

The Britsh Gas 'free gas' offer was made in 2008, and promised a refund of gas bills up to £800. But small print said the saving wouldn't be based on each customer's actual gas expenditure - it would be based on the cost to a direct debit customer calculated at August 2007 prices.

As British Gas raised its prices by 15% in January 2008 and again by 35% in July 2008, customers were unlikely to obtain 'free gas for a year' because there would be a shortfall between what the customer paid for their annual gas bill and what British Gas refunded to them. The ASA concluded that the claim 'free gas for a year' was likely to mislead consumers.

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