British Gas suspends “unsustainable” doorstep selling

British Gas is suspending its sales staff from door step selling, claiming it is “outdated” and no longer a sustainable way to build a relationship with customers.

BritishGas

Instead, the energy supplier will focus on face-to-face appointments with advisers and online customer service. Doorstep selling will be halted for an initial period of three months.

The move comes on the advice of watchdog Consumer Focus, which said that many customers are compelled to switch to worse deals after they have been confronted by door to door sales people. A committee of MPs also discussed concerns about the “Del Boy” sales tactics used by utilities companies on customers’ doorsteps last month.

British Gas is currently ramping up its communications drive to repair its haemorrhaging brand reputation after coming under fire on several occasions, from consumers and regulators, in recent weeks.

Rival supplier Scottish and Southern Energy, also recently stopped doorstep sales after it was found guilty of mis-selling products to its customers.

Ian Peters, managing director of energy at British Gas, says: “Doorstep selling, in its current form, is no longer a sustainable way to engage or build a relationship with customers. We want the energy advice we give our customers to be trusted and delivered at a time and place that is convenient to them.”

British Gas says it has been reducing the number of doorstep salesmen for “many years” and has shrunk that side of the sales force from 1,300 in 2006 to less than 300 people.

Separately, regulator Ofgem is currently undertaking a review into a “radical reform” of the energy sector and is calling on utilities companies to increase their transparency about prices and auction off up to 20% of the energy they generate in order to increase competition in the marketplace.

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