19/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 19:40

British Gas ends doorstep sales of gas and electricity

Category: Business

Published: 11th Oct 2011 15:45:57

British Gas will permanently end the use of unsolicited doorstep sales of gas and electricity contracts, the company has announced.

It is the first of the major suppliers to stop the tactic entirely, following a suspension that began in August.

A temporary halt to doorstep sales has been in place with Scottish and Southern Energy, and EDF Energy. Npower is reviewing its sales strategy.

British Gas said it would stick to pre-arranged appointments.

Staff will visit homes and workplaces if invited, will run events in shopping centres and community centres, and energy advisers are also in place in a supermarket chain.

"Since we announced a halt to unsolicited doorstep selling, feedback from our customers and staff has been very encouraging," said Ian Peters, energy managing director at British Gas.

"Many of our customers choose to do business over the telephone or online, but there is also still a very real demand for face-to-face energy advice among customers - as long as it is delivered at a time and place that is convenient for them."

This move by the UK's biggest supplier heaps even more pressure on other firms to follow suit”

The company said redundancies for some sales staff would be "difficult to avoid".

MPs were recently told that up to 40% of those who switched suppliers on the doorstep did not end up with a better deal, and that vulnerable customers were targeted in particular.

Watchdog Consumer Focus has been campaigning for a ban on cold-calling by energy salesmen and recently called for suppliers to suspend doorstep selling and move to pre-arranged appointments instead.

It wants the companies to inform customers of cheaper deals on offer, possibly on the internet, and outline independent advice that is available.

"This move by the UK's biggest supplier heaps even more pressure on other firms to follow suit," said Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at Consumer Focus.

"We want to see other responsible suppliers to listen to their customers and follow in these footsteps. We need to see an industry-wide end to cold-call doorstep sales, otherwise continued mis-selling will drive customer distrust even further and trust in key government energy schemes could be damaged."

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BBC News, 2011. British Gas ends doorstep sales of gas and electricity [Online] (Updated 11th Oct 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/193024/British-Gas-ends-doorstep-sales-of-gas-and-electricity [Accessed 19th Apr 2014]

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