Gas suppliers refuse to back watchdog
Thursday 28 August 1997
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.
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 3 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 4 Penis size: Study revealing 'what's normal' sends international media into meltdown
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
Ayesha Ali death: Mother and her girlfriend found guilty of manslaughter of eight-year-old
George Clooney and Amal fail to get special treatment at New York restaurant
Cindy Crawford 'un-PhotoShopped' viral Marie Claire image was doctored, claims photographer
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...
£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...