The Energy Advice Line has stepped up its campaign for Ofgem to ban cold calling after a rogue energy broker posing as an energy official telephoned a small firm more than 100 times in less than two weeks.
Someone claiming to be from “the meter registrations company” bombarded the business, which had just moved into new premises, with calls pressuring the owner to sign up to an energy deal.
When the business owner told the caller they had already signed up with an energy supplier, the caller insisted they were legally obliged to deal with them.
In another case, a caller claiming to be from “National Utilities” called a business five times in one week insisting the owner buy an energy contract through them. The same caller had previously called the business pretending to be from British Gas.
Julian Morgan, managing direct of the Energy Advice Line, the UK’s leading electricity price comparison and switching service for business, said the problem of cold-calling was now out of control.
“It’s long overdue for the energy regulator to step in and ban this unscrupulous practice,” Mr Morgan said.
“Ofgem will shortly be announcing major reforms to the retail energy market to ensure that business electricity users get a better deal, and the issue of cold calling needs to be one of their priorities.
“These are very unscrupulous rogue brokers lying to and harassing potential customers in order to sell energy contracts in exchange for a commission.
“Somehow they are obtaining lists of companies who have just moved business premises and they know these organisations will be looking to get their energy supplies in order.
“At best, it’s harassment for firms that simply don’t have time to deal with this level heavy-pressure telephone selling. At worst, it’s fraud when callers present themselves as energy officials when they’re not,” Mr Morgan said.
“These rogue brokers are not selling good deals, they are touting expensive deals on behalf of one particular supplier. They are anything but independent, despite what they might claim, and are not working in the best interest of the customer.”
The Energy Advice Line has been lobbying Ofgem to ban the practice of cold calling and has compiled a list of examples of firms that have been hounded by rogue brokers using high-pressure sales techniques.
The service 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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