OFT Boosts Transparency on Heating Oil Prices

Jack Humphrey, Regulatory journalist
July 27, 2012 /

Following OFT action, GB Oils Limited, the largest supplier of heating oil in the country, has changed its domestic heating oil contracts ensuring quoted prices do not increase from the time an order is made until the customer is billed on delivery.

GB Oils is a subsidiary of DCC PLC, a sales, marketing, distribution and business support services company, operating across five divisions, including energy.

When a consumer orders from a supplier, ‘spot’ prices are quoted that reflect the current market price of oil. The OFT has today secured legally binding undertakings from GB Oils to change its terms and conditions ensuring prices quoted at order remain fixed until delivery.

This OFT action follows on from its 2011 Off-Grid Energy Market Study, which identified concerns that some suppliers may not be treating their customers fairly.

Mary Starks, Senior Director in the OFT’s Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Group, said: “Customers need to know where they stand when they are dealing with suppliers. The action we have taken will allow consumers to buy with confidence even during periods when the weather is snowy and prices are changing rapidly.

“The changes the OFT has secured from GB Oils will remove the uncertainty over what customers will actually end up paying.

“This adds to a body of enforcement work the OFT has undertaken to ensure that users of off-grid energy are treated fairly by suppliers.”

Other action the OFT has taken in this sector includes securing voluntary changes to the content of misleading websites and voluntary agreements from the major liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) suppliers to improve transparency around switching and cancellation rights.

GB Oils co-operated with the OFT’s investigation.

 

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