Gas suppliers shun regulatory body

Calortex and Eastern Group, the country’s two largest independent gas suppliers, are refusing to join the industry’s self-regulatory body, the Association of Energy Suppliers.

The AES was set up by the industry in June to produce a code of conduct for the way gas and electricity companies should sell their products to customers in the newly deregulated market. Sales methods used by gas companies in deregulated areas have led to complaints from customers, with Calortex and Eastern heading a list of problem enquiries compiled by the Gas Consumers Council (MW August 21).

The AES says it has enlisted 28 members, all but the two largest suppliers.

Calortex has refused to sign up, saying it has “concerns” about the way the body has been set up. It questions the make-up of the AES adjudication panel, which will vet complaints about breaches of the sales code.

Calortex objects to British Gas Trading – which is not involved in door-to-door selling – being represented on the panel. Calortex has also asked for clarification about the Association’s “three strikes and you’re out” policy.

A Calortex spokeswoman says: “We are concerned that British Gas is on the panel, and we want further clarification on what the panel is going to do.”

Eastern says it is considering whether to sign up, but as it already has a “superior” code of practice, claims it may not be necessary.

One of Eastern Group’s top executives Bob Bruce is a director of the AES board, which makes the company’s refusal to sign up surprising.

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