British Gas calls a halt to doorstep selling

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The Independent Online

As British Gas calls it a day on doorstep selling, it becomes the second energy provider – after Scottish and Southern Energy – to stop hawking its products door to door.

The move follows an industry investigation by the regulator Ofgem into the practice. Last month the consumer group Consumer Focus called on the energy industry to put a three-month halt on doorstep selling while Ofgem concludes its review. The main concern around the practice is that older, vulnerable consumers can be pressurised into switching supplier by commission-hungry salespeople. Ofgem concluded in the past that many people switching in this way see little benefit and in some cases can end up on a more expensive tariff.

The consumer group Which? has joined in the calls to freeze the practice and welcomed the move by British Gas: "Many people have told Which? they dislike doorstep sales," Richard Lloyd of Which? said. "We want the rest of the industry to follow the lead of British Gas and, earlier, Scottish and Southern Energy. But this will count for little if it is just a temporary suspension or if suppliers switch to other forms of cold calling for the hard sell."

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