British Gas is following in the footsteps of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) today by announcing a three-month suspension of doorstep sales.
The company said that it plans to focus more on its partnership with Sainsbury’s, with many more of its doorstep sales staff being trained to acquire customers in Sainsbury’s stores.
The move was made in response to consumer groups calling for a ban on doorstep energy sales.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which? said: ‘It’s good to see British Gas acknowledge its customers’ strong feelings on this. Many people have told Which? that they really dislike doorstep sales and, until the practice ends for good, the nationwide distrust of energy companies will continue.
‘We want the rest of the industry to follow the lead of British Gas and SSE by stamping out pressure selling on the doorstep.’
British Gas phone sales
However, he added that it was important for British Gas not to ramp up other sales techniques disliked by consumers. A Which? survey earlier this year found that almost half of people had been phoned by an energy company in the previous 12 months, and six in ten of those felt pressured to switch.
Richard Lloyd said that the British Gas suspension on doorstep sales ‘will count for little if it’s just a temporary suspension or if suppliers simply switch to other forms of cold calling for the hard sell’.
In July 2011, SSE announced that it would suspend doorstep sales, with a spokesman saying that ‘commission-based doorstep selling is no longer an effective way to gain customers for the long-term’.
This move was welcomed by Which? and other consumer groups and, shortly after the announcement, Consumer Focus called for a ban on all doorstep energy sales.
The energy industry has been plagued by mis-selling scandals and Which? research has shown that doorstep sales are extremely unpopular with consumers.
In our online survey conducted in June 2011, 93% of people said that they wouldn’t let an energy salesperson into their home, and 31% would refuse to open the door to them.
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