Scotland

Consumer Focus call to end doorstep energy sales

Gas ring
Image caption Consumer Focus has called on all energy companies to halt doorstep selling

Customer watchdog Consumer Focus Scotland has called for an end to doorstep sales by energy companies, amid concerns people are being misled.

The organisation has published a survey indicating nine-out-of-10 people who bought energy products in this way would never do so again.

The call came after Scottish and Southern Energy halted all of its doorstep sales activity in the UK.

Consumer Focus Scotland has called on other energy companies to do the same.

Scottish and Southern has said commission-based doorstep selling was "no longer an effective way" to gain customers.

In May, the energy giant was found guilty at Guildford Crown Court of tricking people into switching from their existing energy firms, between September 2008 and July 2009.

The court found its sales agents had used misleading sales scripts when talking to people on their doorsteps.

A total of 1,878 adults across the UK were questioned by TNS Omnibus for the Consumer Focus survey.

Four per cent of those surveyed said they had a positive view of doorstep selling by energy companies, while 92% said they would never again buy energy-related products on the door.

'Pandora's box'

Consumer Focus Scotland deputy director Trisha McAuley said: "The end of the road has been reached on cold-call energy doorstep sales in Scotland.

"This industry has an appalling track record of mis-selling at people's homes and has had over a decade to change.

"Assurances from energy firms that they will get better simply aren't good enough - unless the problems with doorstep selling are tackled, and firm protections put in place, customers in Scotland will continue to lose out."

Ms McAuley also warned a "Pandora's box of mis-selling" could also be opened with the roll-out of smart meters in homes.

Consumer Focus said all of the UK's "big six" energy companies must voluntarily end doorstep sales immediately for a three-month period to look at alternatives, or energy regulator Ofgem should force them to do so.

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