EDF Energy suspends doorstep sales
- 7 September 2011
- From the section Business
EDF Energy has joined Scottish and Southern Energy and British Gas in halting unsolicited doorstep sales of gas and electricity contracts.
The provider said that the "majority" of customers did not want to be sold energy on the doorstep or through unsolicited calls.
The tactics were recently criticised by an influential committee of MPs.
The 300 EDF workers affected will face a "consultation process" while there is a review of sales practices.
"Customers are increasingly looking for and using other ways to compare and choose their energy supplier," said Jim Poole, EDF's residential customers director.
"We recognise that face to face advice is important to some customers and this will continue with sales at retail venues and via appointment."
Last month, British Gas said that doorstep selling was an increasingly outdated way for energy companies to find new customers.
MPs were recently told that up to 40% of those who switched suppliers on the doorstep did not end up with a better deal, and that vulnerable customers were particularly targeted.
Consumer Focus has been campaigning for a ban on cold-calling by energy salesmen and recently called for suppliers to suspend doorstep selling and move to pre-arranged appointments instead.
"Doorstep sales are clearly not working for many consumers, with hundreds of thousands of people switching to a worse deal on their doorstep," said Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at the watchdog.
"Consumers do not want or need cold-call energy sales that make them feel pressured to switch at the door and do not offer the best rates.
"Energy firms have failed to deliver a solution on doorstep sales for their customers despite well-intentioned commitments over the last decade."
Consumer Focus wants the companies to inform customers of cheaper deals on offer, possibly on the internet, and outline independent advice that is available.
If they were unable to come to a voluntary consensus, then a ban on doorstep sales should be implemented by the regulator Ofgem, it said.
Ron Gainsford, chief executive of the Trading Standards Institute, said: "This is great news for consumers who for too long have been pressured and tricked in their own homes to make ill-informed and costly decisions about their energy provision.
"After of years of campaigning we are now finally seeing, one by one, the biggest energy companies abandoning doorstep sales in favour of better ways to reach their customers."