Domestic customers stay with British Gas
This will be a severe disappointment to the Government. Some industry sources had been predicting a switch of 60,000. Ofgas, the industry watchdog, had privately earmarked 50,000 - 10 per cent of customers in the South- west where the initial phase is to go ahead.
Most rival companies, which include electricity firms and North Sea producers, are unwilling to comment on the extent of their inroads into the market. South Western Electricity's gas division, one of the most aggressive of the newcomers, said: "We cannot give any numbers at the moment. It has a certain commercial sensitivity."
According to industry insiders, one large company is so dismayed by its lack of penetration that it is considering changing its name.
The final figures for those going over to new suppliers on 29 April have by now been given to British Gas' pipeline arm, Transco, in order to ensure a smooth transition. British Gas declined to comment on the figures but one company source said: "There have not been as many as expected. It does show that a lot of people want to stay with British Gas".
The sluggish take-off is, however, a double-edged sword for British Gas, which will face tough regulation until competition is established. The company feels it cannot drop prices in the South-west to match cuts of 15 per cent and more being offered by rivals, for fear of being seen to act anti-competitively.
A company spokesman said: "We cannot go out and compete on a level playing field until market share has gone. That is what the whole process is all about.
"It is important to remember that these are the first tiny steps in an evolution that will take place over two years as competition spreads throughout the UK."
Many in the industry will blame the initial disappointment on aggressive or misleading doorstep selling techniques by some firms. Sweb and CalorTex have been criticised by the Gas Consumers Council, which was outraged by complaints from customers in the area. Sweb was also severely rebuked by local trading standards officers.
Sweb's gas arm had 41,000 potential customers but many of those are thought to have later retracted. A company source admitted to a "large number" of subsequent rejections.
Ofgas is now launching a campaign to inform customers that they have seven says to change their mind after signing up to a supplier as the result of an unsolicited visit.
The GCC has also issued warnings. Ian Powe, its director, said: "Our advice is to sign nothing until people know what British Gas intends to offer customers ."
- 1 Edward Heath 'raped 12 year-old boy at Mayfair flat'
- 2 London is the most googled city in the world
- 3 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 4 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
- 5 Richard Dawkins ridicules Sabrina Corgatelli for claiming her giraffe kill was 'ethical'
Edward Heath 'raped 12 year-old boy at Mayfair flat'
'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale divorce: One of music industry’s most enduring couples announce split after 12 years of marriage
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
iJobs Money & Business
£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - Cit...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...