OFT clamps down on heating oil comparison sitesCustomers searching for cheap heating oil misled

09 September 2011

Heating oil

The OFT is investigating the off-grid energy market

Two heating oil price comparison websites have been rapped by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), after an investigation found they were misleading customers searching for cheap heating oil.

The investigation, part of a wider OFT study into the supply of energy to households not connected to the mains gas grid, looked at whether websites comparing heating oil prices were clear about which companies were included in comparisons and any links they had to the site.

Misleading heating oil quotes

The OFT found the website fuelfighter.co.uk (operated by WCF Fuels limited), claimed to make price comparisons but only quoted prices for its own products and services. It also used false customer testimonials on the site.

Another site, boilerjuice.co.uk (operated by Boiler Juice Limited), was not transparent about links to its parent company, GB Oils Limited - the largest heating oil distributor in the UK. A letter of advice was also sent to Johnston Oils Limited, owners of cheapheatingoil.co.uk.

All sites have now made voluntary changes to their website content.

Clearer heating oil prices

Which? energy expert Sylvia Baron said: 'We're pleased to see  the OFT taking action against those heating oil companies and comparison sites who have been misleading consumers. People off the gas grid who rely on heating oil were already hit with a staggering 70% increase in prices over a period of just three months last winter - so finding a transparent price comparison service is more important than ever.

'Many Which? members who live in off-grid areas have been telling us their concerns, and we've been feeding these back directly to the OFT as it conducts its investigation. We're looking forward to the results next month.'

Oil central heating alternatives

Most households in the UK have mains gas central heating but there are still almost four million homes which are not connected to the gas network.

Installing an energy efficient boiler may help minimise the high costs of oil heating. Or you could consider renewable off-grid alternatives such as solar panel systems.

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