ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) has called for Ofgem to go further in tackling ‘bullying’ practices adopted by some energy companies against retailers.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Many of our members feel bullied by energy companies. We’re therefore very pleased that Ofgem is recommending the end of contract rolling which has led to many businesses becoming locked into contracts at unjustifiably high rates.

“However, we are disappointed that Ofgem have not gone far enough in several areas. Their recommendations will only protect micro businesses, will exclude a large number of vulnerable businesses and do not adequately fill the hole left by the demise of Energywatch which means there is now no body dedicated to assisting businesses in legal battles with energy companies.”

ACS has called for the following safeguards to be introduced:

•    A dedicated body to assist businesses in legal battles.
•    Where an amount is under dispute, for a period of time there should be no outsourcing to bailiffs, threatening letters or phone calls to retailers and interest should not be added for that period.
•    Energy companies should not be able to backdate payments where the energy company is a fault.
•    Energy companies need to keep a record of businesses actually receiving letters sent to them containing the information set out in the informational remedies.
•    When an amount is in dispute retailers need to have one main contact at the energy company rather than speaking to a different contact on every phone call.

Lowman concluded: “We hope that Ofgem is bold enough to take their recommendations further and bring in policies that will shake up the energy industry and bring fairer deals to businesses.”