Doorstop gas and electricity turns consumers off

25 September 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

Consumers have made their feelings known about door-to-door selling of gas and electricity, in a new survey from

The vast majority of consumers (82 per cent) said that they would not buy from an energy salesperson whatever the circumstances, either on the phone, doorstep, or high street.

Of the seven million householders who have taken out an energy plan on the doorstep, just 22 per cent believe they got a good deal.

Citing the other reasons for being against doorstop selling of energy, a further 22 per cent said they felt intimidated and under pressure to take out a plan, with 59 per cent admitting they felt the salespeople were too aggressive in their selling tactics.

The small print puts many people off, with 37 per cent of households saying they are not given sufficient information by salespeople to make an educated decision about whether or not the energy plan is right for them.

An unforgiving 52 per cent of consumers want an outright ban on doorstop selling of energy, while a more lenient 32 per cent would like to see better control and regulation of the doorstop and direct selling processes.

While many elderly or vulnerable people prefer to buy face-to-face with direct human contact, 72 per cent of consumer do not believe that doorstop selling has a valuable role to be in helping these groups to switch energy provider.

More than half of households who switched energy plans in the last 12 months did so through direct or doorstop selling, and therefore suggests the industry simply needs tighter regulation rather than an outright ban so that those who choose to switch in this way get the same level of information as those who do their own research.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at, believes "far more needs to be done to protect consumers and to make sure they are given all the information needed so they do not end up out of pocket."

"Ofgem must make doorstep and direct selling transparent and fair for consumers. There has to be clear rules on what salespeople can and can't do. People will now be given written details of the energy tariff on offer and allowed time to decide whether it is right for them. But ideally they should also be prompted to research other energy plans before signing on the dotted line. People should not feel under pressure or intimidated by direct sales people into making a decision on their doorstep."

Ms Robinson added that consumers need to realise that if they are only being told about one deal, then it is likely not to be the best one as there are many options available.

"Energy tariffs are based on so many different factors including where you live, how you like to pay and what your usage is - without these details a salesperson cannot sensibly recommend an energy plan to you," she said. "With £395 between the most competitive online energy plan and the most expensive standard plan, there's a lot of scope to lose money if you don't do your homework first."

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