Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) will suspend doorstep selling with immediate effect, it revealed today.
The Big 6 energy supplier expects to close door-to-door sales operations permanently, after consulting affected staff.
The news comes after it was found guilty of mis-selling during doorstep sales in May this year, though it is currently appealing these verdicts.
- Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) will suspend doorstep selling with immediate effect
- Consumer Focus is calling for new measures to protect customers from doorstep selling from remaining suppliers
- Download and print a free sign that unwanted sellers must obey
One issue related to a sales script, which led salesmen to claim consumers were paying too much and could save by switching to SSE when they had no idea if this was true.
SSE says commission-based doorstep selling is no longer an effective way to gain customers for the long term and admits that the technique does not have enough customer safeguards in place for such a significant purchase.
Alistair Phillips-Davies, Generation and Supply Director of SSE, says: "We understand that fewer people are willing to engage with traditional doorstep sellers. Changes in products, services and processes mean the energy market has matured to a stage where we believe that commission-based doorstep sales are no longer a sustainable way of securing energy customers for the long term.
"Energy companies need to earn and retain trust. That will be earned by teams of people in the community and in customer service centres who make customers' lives easier, not least by helping them to minimise their energy bills."
Advocate body Consumer Focus is calling for new measures to protect customers from doorstep selling by other suppliers. It wants to see an end to cold-calls to homes, as well as providers informing consumers about any cheaper deals on offer.
How to beat cold callers
Wendy Alcock, campaigns co-ordinator at MoneySavingExpert.com says: "It's great news that Scottish and Southern Energy has decided to stop its door-to-door energy sales as buying on the doorstep is the worst way to switch energy, and we hope other providers follow suit.
"We'd suggest anyone who wants to avoid being sold to at home prints one of our free signs for their door. Then if a company ignores the sign, complain to the provider and go to the Financial Ombudsman Service if needed."
Existing codes of practice mean utility suppliers are not allowed to knock on doors that display a cold callers sign (see the Beat Cold Callers for a free sign).
If the cold-caller persists, note down their name and employee number and report them to the company and Consumer Direct, the government-funded consumer advice service.