Complaints from councillors over high-pressure selling techniques used by door-to-door energy salesmen in Fieldway and New Addington has led to the council to refer an energy company to Ofgem, and effectively to advise residents to use a blunter approach on their doorstep: tell the salesmen to sod off.
Salesmen claiming to be from Coventry-based Economy Energy have been arriving unannounced and gaining access to people’s homes after claiming to be working with Croydon Council, when they are not.
Last December the company was fined £250,000 by Ofgem for mis-selling, and last month the regulator began a new investigation, into its sales practices.
Carole Bonner, a Labour councillor in Fieldway, flagged up the concerns after she received complaints from several residents, and the council’s trading standards team has referred the matter to the regulator.
“Croydon Council does not have, and has never had, any affiliation with Economy Energy,” a council spokesman said.
The council says that a salesman claiming to be from Economy Energy has gained access to people’s homes by claiming that he needed to read the property’s meter, asks the resident which company supplies their energy and goes on to say that Economy Energy is working with the council, which is keen that as many residents as possible switch supplier, to his company.
Today, the Sunday Mirror reports a spokesperson for the company saying, “We are extremely disappointed to hear about this. Customer satisfaction is our priority and a full investigation is under way.”
The firm is among a rising number of “challenger” companies taking on the Big Six – British Gas, Scottish Power, E.ON, EDF, Npower and Scottish and Southern Energy. These six companies have banned door-to-door selling.
Croydon’s Trading Standards’ department’s advice to all residents is never to allow cold-callers access to your home without properly checking their ID and that they represent a legitimate company.
Carole Bonner, a Labour councillor for Fieldway, said, “I took up complaints from residents about Economy Energy who were targeting residents in Fieldway and New Addington to get them to change their energy supplier. Trading Standards in Croydon have been investigating. The company have also been reported to Ofgem.”
Anybody who is concerned about the behaviour of an energy company sales agent should call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06. Or to contact their local councillor.
Croydon’s trading standards team recommends residents enrol in utility companies’ password schemes. Under such schemes, customers register a password of their choice that they can ask any caller from the company to provide before giving access to their property. Inability to provide the password indicates that the caller is not from the company and the resident then knows not to let them in.
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