British Gas and SSE end doorstep sales permanently

LONDON - - British Gas and Scottish and Southern Energy have permanently ended the use of unsolicited doorstep sales of gas and electricity contracts.

They are the first of the major suppliers to stop the tactic entirely.

Pre-arranged appointments will replace unsolicited calls at the door.

A temporary halt to doorstep sales had been in place during staff consultations and remains for EDF Energy. Npower is reviewing its sales strategy.

"Since we announced a halt to unsolicited doorstep selling, feedback from our customers and staff has been very encouraging," said Ian Peters, energy managing director at British Gas.

"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."

Staff will visit homes and workplaces if invited and will run events in shopping centres and community centres. Energy advisers are also in place in a supermarket chain.

The company said redundancies for some sales staff would be "difficult to avoid".

MPs were recently told that up to 40 of those who switched suppliers on the doorstep did not end up with a better deal, and that vulnerable customers were targeted in particular.

Watchdog Consumer Focus has been campaigning for a ban on cold-calling by energy salesmen and recently called for suppliers to suspend doorstep selling and move to pre-arranged appointments instead.

It wants the companies to inform customers of cheaper deals on offer, possibly on the internet, and outline independent advice that is available.

"We want to see other responsible suppliers to listen to their customers and follow in these footsteps," said Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at Consumer Focus.

"We need to see an industry-wide end to cold-call doorstep sales, otherwise continued mis-selling will drive customer distrust even further and trust in key government energy schemes could be damaged."


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