Elected Officials Area
Below is the latest Consumer community newsletter. If you would like to sign up please email us.
In this newsletter:
In this newsletter:
- The end of the road; Energy consumers’ experiences with doorstep sellers
- Have your clients had problems with ‘time of use’ energy tariffs? (e.g. Economy 7, economy 10, dynamic teleswitching)
- Empowering and Protecting Consumers
- Changes to SSE’s assistance for low income and vulnerable households
End of the road for cold-call energy doorstep sales
Consumer Focus is calling on the energy industry to end cold-call doorstep sales. Our recent research shows that more than four in ten people feel under pressure to buy on the doorstep and up to half switch to a worse deal.
SSE recently announced that it was suspending doorstep sale, and we hope that this will encourage other firms to end cold-calling sales on the doorstep which can pressurise consumers into switching to a poor deal. We will focus on working with the industry to try and end this distrusted practice.
Consumer Focus has serious concerns about industry being allowed to conduct sales inside people’s homes through the roll-out of smart meters and we are asking the energy industry to make the following changes voluntarily and, if they do not, for Ofgem to legally require suppliers to take action.
- An end to cold-call doorstep sales in the home by energy suppliers. Sales should only be made by pre-booked appointments and no sales should be allowed during smart meter installation.
- Customers should be clearly signposted to independent advice by suppliers ahead of any home sales visit and given details in any information left at the sale.
- Suppliers must required to inform consumers if there are cheaper deals on offer, such as cheaper online prices, in all face to face or telesales processes.
Have your constituents had problems with ‘time of use’ energy tariffs? (eg Economy 7, economy 10, dynamic teleswitching)
Consumer Focus is going to carry out some research into consumers experiences of electricity tariffs that vary dependent on the time of day that consumers use energy. We are concerned that these tariffs can sometimes be quite confusing, and that it is potentially difficult for consumers to understand how they work.
Have you had consituents asking questions about their two (or three) rate meter? All energy suppliers operate their time of use tariffs at different times of day, and this is also varied according to region – have any of your clients experienced any difficulties with understanding how it works for them? Have you found it easy to get the right information to help you advise your constituents?
If you have spoken to clients or members that have had problems or have been confused by their two (or three) rate tariff which provides cheaper electricity at certain times (for example tariffs like Economy 7, Economy 10, Eco 20:20, Economy 2000 etc) we would like to hear from you as we begin to plan this research.
Please email Yammy Faleh, or telephone her on 020 7799 8044.
Empowering and Protecting Consumers
Government has published a consultation on its proposals to reform the consumer landscape for advice, advocacy and enforcement. A key part of the proposals is to abolish Consumer Focus and transfer some of our functions to other bodies such as Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland and General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, although the prospect of alternative approaches and partnership working are raised. Over the summer, organisations and individuals will be able to provide the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) with their views on how proposals to reform the landscape could produce a better outcome for consumers. The closure date for the consultation is 27th September.
Consumer Focus wants to make a contribution to this important debate about how consumers can be empowered, how their voices can be heard and how their interests can be represented. Our concern is not about which organisation does the work, but what work needs to be done. A number of stakeholders have approached us, keen to discuss the implications for our immediate work, our proposal for a Regulated Industries Unit and for the future of consumer advocacy more generally. We will be sharing an interim response with you in the next few weeks.
Please email Dhara Vyas, or telephone her on 020 7799 8048 for more information.
Changes to SSE’s assistance for low income and vulnerable households
For further information on the changes to SSE’s assistance for low income and vulnerable households, please see the attached letter from SSE. The letter informs advisers of the changes regarding the assistance for low income and vulnerable households through the ‘Warm Home Discount’ due to changes introduced by the Government April this year. You will also find the eligibility criteria for the scheme which replaces the Care tariff and rebate scheme.
The eligibility has been categorised as ‘The Core Group’, which enables the scheme to be automatically applied to the customers. ‘The Broader Group’ involves various vulnerable customers on low income whom, unlike the Core Group, will need to apply and be assessed for eligibility once a year, please see further details provided.
If you have any further enquiries, please contact SSE’s agency line on 0800 975 7771.
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