Former Forecourt Trader of the Year Jonathan James was interviewed about the bullying tactics of energy companies on Radio Cambridgeshire this morning.

The interview happened on the day the Association of Convenience Stores revealed how basic rights afforded to domestic customers by energy companies are denied to small businesses, costing them thousands of pounds each year.

In its response to the Ofgem Retail Market Review, ACS has now called for businesses to receive the same protections that are afforded to domestic customers and end the harmful practices that cost small businesses thousands of pounds every year.

Currently energy companies can claim money from business customers for a number of years of errant billing through no fault of the customer. The energy companies can also automatically rollover their contracts with business customers, leaving the customer unable to negotiate and creating confusion with regard to notice periods.

Jonathan James was interviewed for eight minutes about a dispute with Powergen concerning his West Park Street Service Station in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire. The energy company had made an error and demanded £35,000 from Jonathan to settle his final bill. “I kicked off about it and it ended up in arbitration and we agreed to settle out of court but Powergen was extremely intimidating,” said Jonathan. “It was good to get air time for the subject this morning.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Energy companies are abusing their relationship with small businesses in a way that would never be allowed for the general public. These double standards need to stop, and the measures we are proposing would give business customers the same basic rights as domestic consumers.”

In its submission, ACS has called on Ofgem to: limit the length of time that energy companies can backdate bills to 12 months; stop automatic rollover contracts; introduce a more effective procedure for handling complaints; introduce a new code of practice for TPIs; and prevent excessive use of the objections procedure.

Lowman continued: “For too long, energy companies have had a free reign over businesses and have been able to tie them up into unreasonable contracts. We must see a complete overhaul of the way energy companies do business with their non-domestic customers and a more effective procedure for handling complaints.”