A series of adverts run by British Gas's Scottish offshoot have been criticized by the UK's advertising watchdog, the ASA, for being 'misleading'.
The commercials were aired on television by Centrica-owned Scottish Gas in the autumn of 2005. The ads appeared to claim that dual fuel customers would be better off in financial terms by staying with Scottish Gas rather than switching to a rival supplier.
In one example, an animated gas flame character was intended to portray a Scottish Gas customer who says he is happy that he stayed with the firm because the price rises affecting the whole industry tended to balance themselves out over time.
However rival ScottishPower protested to the ASA that the adverts implied that there would be a material financial benefit from staying with Scottish Gas. The ASA, after consulting with consumer watchdog Energywatch, has agreed with the complaint and banned British Gas from running similar ads in the future.
British Gas insists the commercials were intended merely to show that different energy suppliers can raise their tariffs at different times in the year, with the consequence that the benefits of switching are less clear cut.