Updated: 04:40 EDT, 25 July 2011
Energy customers hoodwinked by the ‘Del Boy sales tricks’ of door-to-door electricity and gas salesmen should receive compensation, MPs said last night.
Thousands of consumers are being pressurised into switching suppliers on the doorstep without proper consideration of the options, the Commons Energy Select Committee said.
When confronted with hard-sell techniques and a vast array of complex tariffs, many agree to move to a different company, even though they may end up worse off.
Lovely jubbly: MPs warn energy customers over 'Del Boy' sales tricks, named so after David Jason's character Derek Trotter in the comedy Only Fools and Horses (pictured)
Energy watchdog Ofgem believes up to 40 per cent of consumers who switch do not end up with a better deal.
MPs found that vulnerable consumers, such as the elderly, were being exploited by doorstep sellers – with some companies even targeting sheltered accommodation blocks.
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Committee chairman Tim Yeo said: ‘There is mounting concern in Parliament about the doorstep-selling techniques of large energy companies.
‘If it turns out that consumers are being persuaded to switch contracts when it’s not in their best interests, by salesmen keen to earn commission, then it would only be right for the energy companies to cough up compensation.'
Pressurised: Consumers are being urged to switch suppliers by salesmen keen to earn commission
Energy companies told MPs that door-to-door salesmen can earn more than half their pay through commission – giving them an incentive to put huge pressure on householders to switch suppliers.
Mr Yeo welcomed the fact that Scottish and Southern Energy had announced it would suspend doorstep selling following its appearance in front of the Select Committee.
He added: ‘The rest of the Big Six should ditch the Del Boy sales tricks and concentrate on giving customers the information they need to choose the correct contract.’
The report also raises concerns about the propensity for energy prices to ‘rise like a rocket and fall like a feather’.
It attacks the growing complexity of tariffs and the market dominance of the Big Six – Centrica, EDF, E.ON, RWE npower, Scottish Power and Scottish and Southern Energy.
Mr Yeo claimed: ‘Electricity and gas tariffs are now so complex that even the Energy Minister admitted he got confused when trying to switch.’
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2018309/Energy-firms-told-pay-customers-compensation-Del-Boy-sales-tricks.html