The Association of Convenience Store (ACS) has responded to the publication of two consultations from the energy watchdog Ofgem, calling for more to be done to tackle problems faced by retailers when dealing with energy companies.
Ofgem has published consultations on the issues of Third Party Intermediaries (TPIs) and rollover contracts for small businesses. As part of the TPIs consultation, Ofgem has proposed placing a licence obligation on suppliers to only work with TPIs who are accredited to an industry governed code of practice. However, they have stopped short of proposals to ban rollover contracts.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Many retailers use third party intermediaries and brokers as part of their business to take away the time consuming aspect of managing energy in-store. However, there are a number of TPIs who mis-sell to business customers and this must be stopped. We have called for a robust code of practice for TPIs and for suppliers to only deal with those who sign up to that code, and are pleased that Ofgem have listened to our concerns on this issue.
“We welcome Ofgem’s continued focus on the issue of rollover contracts, but believe that further action needs to be taken. Rollover contracts tie retailers into excessively expensive rates for energy and this must be stopped. We urge Ofgem to consider an outright ban on rollover contracts in addition to the measures they have proposed in their consultation.”
In 2013, ACS supported the All Party Small Shops Group Inquiry into energy provision for small businesses. The Group presented its findings to a Downing Street working group, calling for further regulation on suppliers on the issues of backbilling, rollover contracts and engagement with TPIs. ACS has also recently written to Ofgem, expressing concerns that some suppliers are yet to move to a 12-month limit on backbilling.