New rules aim to protect energy customers

Energy customers are to be given greater protection from door-to-door salesmen, with new rules governing their conduct.

Energy customers are to be given greater protection from door-to-door salesmen, with new rules governing their conduct.

As announced in October last year, anyone sold a new gas or electricity contract from the doorstep will first have to be provided with a written quote.

The move is intended to bring more transparency to a practice that has long frustrated many homeowners.

Research from campaign group Consumer Focus has found that eight out of ten people with first-hand experience of being door-stopped by an energy representative described it as a "negative experience".

More than a third even felt they had been intimidated by the sales person.

The new rules cover all face-to-face sales. But its target are the door-to-door sales people who offer deals that consumers sometimes later find are not in their best interests.

Hannah Mummery, energy expert for Consumer Focus, said: "The new licence conditions should make doorstep selling more accountable and transparent which is a welcome step forward.

"However, we believe it is very much a case of 'time will tell' to see whether there is improvement in the sales tactics used by energy suppliers.

She added: "We believe that doorstep selling may be useful for some people in securing cheaper energy bills, but we are very concerned over the problems it has clearly been causing many customers.

"Hopefully the new licence conditions will make energy companies clean up their act regarding this type of selling."

Ofgem will also introduce new so-called debt blocking arrangements from Monday.

Under the new rules the threshold of debt on a pre-payment meter with which a person can switch provider will be doubled to £200.

It should allow a greater number of vulnerable customers to move on to better deals.

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