Responding to EDF Energy’s announcement today that it will be suspending energy doorstep sales, Audrey Gallacher, Director of Energy at Consumer Focus, said:
‘EDF Energy is the third of the Big Six to suspend doorstep sales and commit to finding a better way to reach their customers. This heaps yet more pressure on npower, E.ON and Scottish Power to behave responsibly by listening to what their customers want and follow suit.
‘Doorstep sales are clearly not working for many consumers, with hundreds of thousands of people switching to a worse deal on their doorstep. Consumers don’t want or need cold call energy sales that make them feel pressured to switch at the door and don’t offer the best rates.
‘Energy firms have failed to deliver a solution on doorstep sales for their customers despite well-intentioned commitments over the last decade.1 Continued cold call sales by the remaining big suppliers could further damage consumer trust and potentially dent confidence and buy-in for the Government’s energy efficiency and smart meter schemes.
‘We would urge all consumers to think twice before they buy on the doorstep, shop around for the best deal, and take time to think things over before making a final decision.’
The consumer champion has called for an immediate three-month moratorium on energy cold-calling to explore alternatives and has been in detailed discussions with suppliers. British Gas and SSE have already committed to suspending sales. Scottish Power has so far refused to end cold call doorstep sales and E.ON and npower2 have yet to commit to a moratorium.
If suppliers are unwilling to change their practices voluntarily the watchdog is urging Ofgem to legally require suppliers to take action or consider an outright ban on doorstep sales. These measures include:
- 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.
Consumer Focus research shows:
- More than nine out of ten people who have bought energy products on the door would never do so again
- Only 4% of people are positive about energy door step sales
- Only 1% of consumers see doorstep sales as a useful way to find out about products
- Only 3% have a positive view of any type of doorstep sales, down from 9% in 2009.2
- 50% of those who sign up on the door for a product or service, and then changed their mind, signed up because they felt pressurised
- 79% of customers would prefer prior appointments agreed before a sales visit
Notes to editors:
- Please see Consumer Focus’ report – ‘The end of the road ’ for further facts and figures on doorstep energy sales.
- Currently four of the ‘Big Six’ suppliers, Scottish Power, SSE, EDF Energy and npower are being investigated by Ofgem about whether their door-step sales practices have broken the rules. SSE was also found guilty of using a misleading sales script for doorstep energy sales in a Surrey Trading Standards court case in May and is currently appealing this.
- When it announced its recent price rise npower commented that: ‘Over the last few years we have invested much effort into recognising our customers’ preferences regarding sales. These preferences are evolving and we have been reviewing our approach to cold selling on the door step through our direct labour force. After consultation with our staff we will determine which sales channels will continue. It is therefore clear that there will be a transition from cold sales on the door step.’