Gas suppliers refuse to back watchdog

The high-profile watchdog set up to outlaw dubious sales tactics in the emerging domestic gas and electricity markets was facing a boycott yesterday by some of the leading independent suppliers.

Two of the biggest gas companies competing with British Gas, Eastern Natural Gas and Calortex, have refused to join the Association of Energy Suppliers (AES) after reservations about its effectiveness. The association was launched this summer by the Gas Consumers Council (GCC) and Electricity Association after complaints about door-to-door sales tactics in trials of household gas competition.

The dispute emerged as Clare Spottiswoode, the gas industry regulator, yesterday confirmed the next phase of gas competition, extending choice to 2 million homes in Scotland and the North-east of England, would start on 1 November.

The decision is likely to prove controversial after demands from several independent gas companies that the trial be postponed to February. They claimed computer systems being built by TransCo, the pipeline network run by BG, would not be fully tested.

Ms Spottiswoode said TransCo's innovative approach to its data management systems had made the early launch date possible, in time for the highest- spending winter quarter.

Sue Slipman, director of the GCC, yesterday joined the criticism of the November launch. She said: "We are worried that the early opening of the market will lead to higher levels of problems for consumers than would have been created by a later starting date. GCC does not have the resources to support a high level of consumer complaints."

The looming boycott of the AES is expected to lead to pressure for a fully fledged statutory sales code for the energy industry, despite Ms Spottiswoode's reluctance to incorporate a mandatory code into companies' operating licences.

The AES had expected all gas and electricity suppliers to join its ranks, with sanctions including public dismissal from the body after three warnings.

Eastern, the gas arm of Energy Group, said its membership was under review and it had no plans to join. A spokesman said: "We're confident the interests of our customers are already protected. We already have our own code of practice which is tougher than the AES's."

The company was at the centre of complaints about its sales tactics since the start of competition, resulting in the sacking of some sales representatives and a rebuke from Ofgas, the industry watchdog. Eastern said its own code had a 14-day cooling-off period for customers, double the seven- day period for the AES.

Calortex, which has campaigned for a statutory code of conduct, was also unhappy. "We haven't signed yet and we have concerns about the effectiveness of the sanctions," said a spokeswoman.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing