Energy shake-up could lead to even more expensive bills

Changes to the household energy sector could cause a rise in deceptive sales tactics - including doorstep selling - forcing customers into more expensive contracts, a trading standards expert warns.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) says Government regulator Ofgem’s recent proposals to relax rules could lead to unscrupulous sales methods.

They claim doorstop selling could increase, amid ScottishPower’s calls on the Government to make it easier to sell energy face-to-face.

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The ‘Big Six’ energy companies scrapped doorstepping four years ago after Ofgem found 52 per cent of customers who signed up to cold-calling offers were left worse off.

Steve Playle, CTSI’s lead officer for energy and climate change, said: “A return to face-to-face marketing may lead to consumer detriment at the hands of commission-hungry sales representatives and agencies.

“Time and time again, the activities of sales reps across a whole range of sectors, including energy, have generated complaints to trading standards.

“All businesses need to be aware that deceptive, misleading and illegal sales practices are not acceptable and can lead to investigation and ultimately, prosecution.”

In 2014, energy giant E.On paid out £12 million to customers after the company were found to have broken rules. The previous year, Scottish and Southern Energy were fined £10.5 million over how it handled contracts.

Following the announcement of a Government-led scheme to fit smart meters in all homes across England, Scotland and Wales by 2020, CTSI also warned meters could enable energy companies to introduce complicated and expensive contracts.