British Gas and Scottish and Southern cease doorstep selling
British Gas and Scottish and Southern Energy have both announced that they are permanently ending the use of unsolicited doorstep sales.
A temporary halt to doorstep sales has been in place with British Gas, Scottish and Southern Energy and EDF Energy for several months as all three have pondered whether to stop the practice permanently. EDF Energy has yet to decide whether to make the ban permanent.
"Since we announced a halt to unsolicited doorstep selling, feedback from our customers and staff has been very encouraging," says Ian Peters, energy managing director at British Gas. The firm will now replace unsolicited doorstep sales with pre-arranged appointments at people's homes or workplaces, as well as events in shopping centres and community centres.
"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," he says.
The news has been welcomed by Consumer Focus, which has been campaigning for an end to doorstep sales as many customers are persuaded to switch but end up on deals that are no better than the one they were already on.
"This is a welcome further announcement from British Gas," says 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."
Npower, E.ON and Scottish Power have yet to act on the matter.
The practice of a dishonest salesperson misrepresenting or misleading an investor about the characteristics of a product or service. For example, selling a person with no dependants a whole-of-life policy. There have been notable mis-selling scandals in the past, including endowment policies tied to mortgages, employees persuaded to leave final salary pensions in favour of money purchase pensions (which paid large commissions to salespeople) and payment protection insurance. There is no legal definition of mis-selling; rather the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issues clarifying guidelines and hopes companies comply with them.