Other customers have complained of being plagued by sales calls to the point where they are forced stop answering their telephones
FURIOUS business energy customers have inundated the Energy Advice Line with complaints about the cold-calling tactics of utility companies – with some firms reporting up to 30 high-pressure sales calls a day.
Businesses that have just moved premises have complained of being contacted by callers fraudulently posing as meter “officials” in order to elicit information to take over their energy supplies.
Other customers have complained of being plagued by sales calls to the point where they are forced stop answering their telephones – in once case, a business owner was bombarded with calls during a funeral despite being told to stop.
The Energy Advice Line, the UK’s leading price comparison and switching service for business, has launched a campaign Say No To Cold Calling on Business Energy to lobby energy regulator Ofgem to ban the practice.
Julian Morgan, managing director of the service, said high-pressure cold-calling strategies were increasingly being used by rogue agents acting on behalf of the energy suppliers. Businesses moving premises were particular targets.
“You wouldn’t believe the stories we have heard abut the lengths these callers will go to in order to get customers to sign up to energy contracts,” Mr Morgan said.
“These agents somehow obtain information about businesses who are taking on new leases, and then bombard them with sales calls.
“In many cases they pose as meter “officials” – although no such officials exist – so that business owners reveal meter information. Before they know it, they’ve been hoodwinked into expensive energy contracts.
“We intend to present our evidence to Ofgem and urge the regulator to ban the practice in order to protect businesses from this kind of highly-suspect, high-pressure sales activity.”
Mr Morgan said specific examples of complaints involved cold-callers who:
• Called one prospective business customer 30 times in one day to sell an energy contract
• Called a prospective customer 10 times in one day placing intense pressure on them to agree to a contract
• Called a prospective customer 5 times a day before they had even moved into new premises, having already obtained their contact details and meter information
• Told a business owner they were legally obliged to accept the energy contract they were being offered
• Claimed to be from bogus organizations – variously called Central Registrations, The Meter Registrations Company, The Meter Registrations Department and Central Networks – to elicit private meter information
• Threatened to cut off energy supplies if the business owner refused to accept a contract offer
• Told business owners their meters needed to be “re-registered” in order to obtain meter registration numbers
• Made three unsolicited calls to a business owner in the space of 30 minutes, despite being asked to desist because they were attending a funeral
The Energy Advice Line has produced guidance for firms to follow to avoid being locked into the expensive business electricity and gas deals being touted by cold callers.
1. Speak to a price comparison service that has a large panel of suppliers: check that they are not just working for one specific supplier
2. Say No to Cold Calling: do not accept an energy deal from someone who calls you out of the blue. The price is usually 30%–40% above of the current retail price.
3. Verify who you are talking to: ring the company back and ask to speak to your account manager to ensure they are being truthful about the company they represent
4. Price transparency: go with a price comparison service prepared to put the energy tariffs they offer on their website so you can be sure you are making the right choice
5. Commission transparency: if you want to know how much commission the agency is earning from the switch just ask. A reputable service will tell you. If they will not tell you, be suspicious
6. Pressure selling: a professional impartial and transparent service will not exert any pressure on you to enter into a contract, and will give you the information and time you need to ensure you are making the right choice
You can join the Say No to Cold Calling campaign and get further information at www.energyadviceline.org.uk/say-no-to-cold-calling.php
You can also follow the campaign on twitter @SayNoToColdCall
If you believe you have been tricked into an expensive energy contract by a cold-caller, one of our team of business energy contract experts may be able to help – call 0800 915 1800.
The Energy Advice Line is the UK’s only impartial business electricity price comparison and switching service exclusively for business. It has campaigned for utility companies to change their business energy contracts and billing arrangements to make it easier for firms to switch suppliers to get the best business electricity rates and gas deals.
For further information visit www.energyadviceline.org.uk
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