Ofgem called on consumers to provide information if they have had concerns when being sold energy contracts over the phone or face-to-face.
A hotline was available for six weeks and information recorded has been passed on to Ofgem which will review it in the light of new obligations on energy suppliers to proactively prevent misleading and unfair marketing practices by sales agents.
The new obligations have been introduced to help consumers make better informed decisions in response to direct sales approaches from suppliers. They follow Ofgem’s Energy Supply Probe – link opens in a new browser window which found that 40% of consumers switching on the doorstep inadvertently moved to a more expensive contract.
Since 18 January 2010, energy suppliers must ensure that sales agents provide consumers with estimates of expected annual gas and electricity charges. If you use a prepayment meter, or if the sales agent suggests that the deal offered is cheaper than your current charges, you can also expect a comparison of the agent’s offer against what you are currently paying.
Over and above that, since 21 October 2009 suppliers have been required to take all reasonable steps to achieve an objective which is designed to prevent misselling in telephone and face-to-face sales activities. In essence, they have to ensure that:
- sales activities are conducted in a fair, transparent, appropriate and professional manner; and
- any information given to consumers is:
o complete and accurate,
o easy to understand,
o not misleading, and
o does not relate to products which are inappropriate for the consumer.
For further information on your rights and what you can expect from your supplier if you are sold an energy contract face-to-face, please see the following leaflet - PDF, 286Kb - link opens in a new browser window.
For information on Ofgem’s work in investigating suppliers’ compliance with relevant obligations and details of enforcement action previously taken, please see our investigations section.
If you have concerns about the selling of energy contracts over the phone or face-to-face, please call Consumer Direct on 08454 04 05 06.
Updated 18 October 2010