Iberdrola programmed Curenergía’s page, marketing its regulated electricity and gas tariffs, to be impossible to find on Google searches. It did this by adding a “noindex” tag to the source code of the Internet, indicating to all search engines that the owner does not want it to appear in any of its results, even when directly entering the term “Curenergy”. .
The energy company re-enabled the page to appear in search engines after the campaign was discovered by Samuel Parra, a lawyer specializing in consumer rights and data protection. He discovered this when trying to negotiate a regulated gas tariff with Curenergía and verified that it was impossible to access its page directly from Google.
“Until now, I had a regulated electricity tariff with them, so I decided to write a gas tariff as well, which in my case is three times cheaper,” the lawyer explains to elDiario.es. “I googled Curenergía’s page and it didn’t come up. There were other websites talking about Curenergía but not on the official page. I thought maybe they changed the name and it was no longer called like that, I looked to see if it has a new name and I saw that it doesn’t. So I put ‘curenergia.es’ directly into the browser and that was it,” he continues.
The next check was obvious to a lawyer specializing in the application of law to technological systems. “I knew the energy companies were making it difficult for people to change their regulated rate. I thought: Couldn’t they have de-indexed their website so people can’t find and figure out the phone number, enter the web form or find it? Sure enough, I looked at the source code of the page and there was a tag: noindex.
Parra then confirmed that it wasn’t a regular web setup, “in case it’s always been that way.” It was done with a tool Web Archive, which periodically takes a snapshot of the entire Internet and shows what each page looked like at a specific point in time. “I started looking at the previous versions and saw that no, the previous versions didn’t have that label and the web was fine. This is a change that should have been made a few days ago,” he concludes.
After discovering that the page had been configured to hide it from search engines, Parra denounced the facts in a Twitter thread that went viral. Just 24 hours after it was posted, it has already been shared nearly 15,000 times.
elDiario.es contacted Iberdrola for its version of this information, but the company refused to answer the questions of this newsroom.
Iberdrola’s action comes after the National Markets and Competition Commission opened a file on energy companies over the difficulties customers are facing with regulated gas tariffs that are much cheaper than free market offers.
Iberdrola is one of the companies investigated, but so are Naturgy, Endesa and Totalenergies. CNMC sources revealed to this media that “requests are being sent” to the marketing representatives of the last resort to “see how they fulfill the requests”. Specifically, wait times and services dedicated to customer service are analyzed to see how each of these companies is doing.
Source: El Diario