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Knock knock. ‘Want to switch energy supplier?’

Doorstep seller

Pushy salespeople are more likely to make me scream than open my purse, especially when I’m fed cheesy lies. Scottish & Southern Energy is the latest to be rapped – would you switch energy deals on the doorstep?

Few things make me more uncomfortable than strangers who come and sell things at my door. Perhaps I’m a wuss, but it makes me feel vulnerable.

Why have you come to my house? Why are you being so pushy? No, you can’t come in for two minutes… It makes me wish I had a water pistol to fend them off.

If I could just have a minute…

So I’m quite pleased to discover that my frustration is justified. Last week we found that some of their sales tactics are more than just ‘annoying’ or ‘pushy’ – they’re illegal.

On May 13, Scottish & Southern Energy were found guilty of mis-selling energy tariffs on the doorstep. Their salespeople would knock on doors and tell people that they had “received a printout” about customers who were paying too much for their energy. And – would you believe it – the person who answered the door was apparently one of them.

You’ve been specially selected!

Of course, the fact that there was no such printout didn’t stop them. Unsurprisingly, the court ruled that particular sections of the script were misleading. They’ll be fined later on this month, but until then the laughably cheesy script provides a bit of entertainment:

‘The thing is, most of the customers in this area have managed to get themselves off these expensive tariffs, but there’s always one or two we have to chase up, (laughing) ‘cos we reckoned you’d probably want to get off the expensive tariffs as well (nod head), yeah? So can you just spare me two minutes…..is that OK? (Nod head and wipe your feet)’

It’s not just the stage directions that made me laugh, but the fact I can picture just how it works.

So you don’t want to save money then?

I once spent a day working for a company (who will remain nameless) selling home improvements door to door. Part of our spiel involved telling people that they’d get a ‘free home survey’ if they signed up. They didn’t of course – the ‘survey’ consisted of one of our sales reps having a look round their house and telling them how much money we’d like. Can you guess why I left?

And I’ve been on the receiving end of dodgy sales pitches too – a double glazing salesman once called me a liar because I told him I’d had another quote (I had) for less than half what he was quoting (again, true). Funny in hindsight, but intimidating at the time, and also clearly not a great way to prise open my wallet.

So come on, to celebrate the quashing of one awful door-to-door sales tactic, let’s hear the best cheesy sales lines you’ve ever been fed, whether from energy companies or double-glazers. What have salespeople said to entice you to buy? And, the million dollar question: did you buy it?

Door-to-door salespeople - what do you think?

I'd rather they didn't come to my house at all (95%, 958 Votes)

It depends on what they're selling and how pushy they are (4%, 45 Votes)

I like them - it's nice to chat face to face (1%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,010

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Bought to book eh! So should all…..but it’s what they can do to ‘you’ when all things go wrong. What with the BoE suggesting price hikes – again! – and companies still wanting to maintain profit margins at the end of the day, us poor mugs just don’t have any more stones left to squeeze the blood out of.

So don’t, please don’t, sign anything on the doorstep or agree on the phone! Follow every link you can on this matter. The bad news, SSE have yet to appeal?


Hi brackleshamdavid, well spotted on the “yet to appeal” point! We’re strongly urging SSE not to appeal this decision. Right now they should concentrate on making sure that future sales of SSE tariffs are honest and transparent, so the consumer knows exactly what they’re buying and why.


What I found worrying is that when British Gas came knocking on the door they already knew my full name !
Havent dealt with British Gas at this address before and arent on the “full” electoral roll .


Funny I’ve had someone from Southern Electricity knock on my door twice in the last 6 months using the same line.

It didn’t work either time.

Can’t see any good reason to have these vultures allowed to peddle their wares like this/


If I may be permitted a quick postsript, with ‘thanks’ Nikki, for the previous mention. I’ve been smugly strutting around with a ‘Cheshire Cat’ grin, perhaps today more than ever with good reason.

SSE announced mega profits born on the back of these ‘illegal sales tactics’, so I hope these are brought to ‘Me Lud’s’ attention when sentencing takes place at Guildford Crown Court. The dilema though is ‘door to door’ selling is still legal! Therefore which front do I/you/us beat them on! Morals? Fair Play? etc…or radically ban the whole of this type of selling. I see equal value in all for many reasons, but you ‘cut one head off’ other ‘heads’ appear!


CRAIG says:
29 October 2011

You dont know what your talking about and obviously trying to make a quick buck out of it yourself.People have lost there jobs how can this be good news,SSE customer service and tarrifs were great value for money
I have worked for 3 of the energy companys SSE have got excellent customer service and when Ive been on my rounds for the other companys not alot of people want to switch from them.
I dont work for SSE no more but the facts are they are BRITISH,GOOD VALUE,GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE.


When is this coming to and end. Southern Electricity have been mentioned time and time again as being economical with the truth regarding energy and sales tactics but the complaints still come in.

Their salesperson must all be commission based and/or selected by their hurman resource section for being pushy, overbearing, sales focused, or whatever trendy terms they now use to describe dishonesty.

There tactics would be almost acceptable if they did not lie about the savings one is supposed to make, which in any case always disappear after a few months when the tarriiffs are change for another and/or the wholesale price of energy increases.

The British people were truly taken in by the concept that competition from privatization would bring down prices but forgot that one can have too many cooks trying to sell the same old broth in deceptive packaging, and energy companies can always discuss at their plush London clubs what the price will be to continue the tradition of ensuring we remain famous for being Rip Off Britain.


Morning Major

You might be intersted in this, end of year/pat on the back/well done all/the futures bright, effort from SSE. http://cot.ag/meEy6T which I found late last night.

Everyone can note not one word of contrition about ‘sales’ apart from ‘up’ and ‘customer service’ as the best – collated by a company whose last 2010 ‘poll’ cost £470 – which no doubt will go un-noticed by their 20,000 employees.

They also follow this site on twitter as @SSE so let us ensure they hear us. Lets hope ALL those other suppliers take note as well, will the Co-op ‘new boys’ on the block use ‘door to door’ as well?


Hi all, just a quick update – British Gas have floated the idea that they might stop door-to-door sales altogether, as they know how annoying people find it, and also because they’re worried about associating themselves with all the recent problems with mis-selling. Good news, I think.

It’d be great to hear stories from people who have switched when a door-to-door salesperson has come calling – anyone in this position? Would be good to know what happened, and whether you’re happy with your switch?


Hello Nikki

When British Gas actually show remorse and does give up door-to-door thieving sorry sales, then sound a loud HUZZAH. (SSE take note!)

Can we then see an end to Standing Charges being used to maintain profits, pension funds and everything else when ‘we’ do all the work, save of once a year when they read the meters?

Door Knocker says:
4 July 2011

Are you people serious!?

The country is on it’s knees and unemployment is high so I don’t understand why anyone would want to see so many people (or ‘vultures’) lose their job?

Door to door selling is THE most successful way of obtaining new business in the Energy Market, and many, many customers are more than happy to switch via a door step sales rep, whether they live in a council flat or an 8 bedroom house.

If everyone said ‘no’ or ‘go away’, ‘these people’ would be on the dole draining the benefits system.

I’ve worked in this field for many years now and, as usual, we always concentrate on the few bad apples instead of looking at the bigger picture. I haven’t had a single complaint in all my time knocking on peoples doors.

I went to a customer’s house on Friday who was with Utility Warehouse, I called our Bureau for a price comparison and the customer was paying £312 per year more than what she would have if she was billed by my company. How is this BAD or negative?

I’ve signed Politicians, Police Officers, Teachers, Vicars and other pillars of the community. The ‘trick’ is simply to be honest.

Please don’t tar us all with the same brush, or be part of a movement that may result in many, many people lose their jobs.

Fellow Knocker says:
16 March 2012

I have recently become a door knocker! I’m actually researching how ethical it is right now!
I do not work for an electric company and, as some have suggested, do not try to scam the elderly. In fact, we offer cheap, promotional trials for various companies.
What I want to know is whether people consider this to be the same as the gas/electicity salesmen? We do not ask for a long term contract and make sure that people are aware of when and how to cancel the trial. We only tell them the price if they ask (which is less than ten pounds) and do our very best not to be pushy but simply promote a fast growing company which is, in fact, cheaper than the previous options.

truth says:
10 July 2011

I worked in this industry for 12 years and recently left. Years ago we offered customers saving&#