/ Home & Energy

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?

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?

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’s of £70 to £140 on average. However for some reason the big 6 have narrowed the margins of new doorstep offers to £10 to £50 a year savings against standard prices. Most customers who trust doorstep callers will swap for £70 savings per year so the reps are lying about the savings and somtimes costing customer’s more. It is also diffucult to compare prices as companies have made it this way. BG was the first to do this by removing standing charge and adding 2 tier tariffs. Most customers have now lost all confidence in door to door selling the end is near.

I have fallen foul of a ‘door-stepper and as a result have been trying to get someone at both British Gas and EDF energy to read my meter. Neither will accept responsibility for doing this, yet both claim that my own meter readings are incorrect.

British Gas sent me a final bill up to April 1st of nearly £800.00p and EDF have yet to make my account live. As a result I have be unable to pay any money since April.

I am a pensioner and am very distressed bt this.

Scottish Power visited this morning and proceeded to insult my wife with the line “So you don’t want to save money then?” when told we were not changing supplier. This was repeated three times. She found him dismissive and intimidating. In answer to an earlier comment by “Door knocker” we
would never buy on the doorstep. Entering a new contract requires time to consider – not wise to jump in on a whim!

CRAIG says:
24 October 2011

I think energy firms should be able to carry on selling door to door it is the only way to get people to switch to a better deal.The elderly and the poor who dont have internet access wont be able to find the cheapest deals.Now doorstep selling has stopped VENUE selling will take its place which is not very accurate because lets face it how many people who go shopping carry a gas and electric bill so the figures are based on average consumption of house size and bedrooms.That is why doorstep should still continue!!!

A.Clarke says:
25 October 2011

i appreciate someone knocking on your door can be a very daunting prospect but if done properly by the salesman it shouldnt be. I am a sales Consultant for a home improvements company, yes double glazing. We are not all ‘pushy’ and ‘forceful’ just for the record. i am a very genuine sales person. i dont no use modern sales tactics i am honest and trustworthy. I wish people would understand that not all ‘double glazing’ salesmen are big scary monsters, we are genuine people trying to make a living just like everyone else. Use some common sence, look for the family run companys, ask a friend or relative if they have of the company before, check for reviews or just give them a chance, we are all human. However, avoid the national companies Everest, Anglian , Safestyle etc.

William Garland says:
1 November 2011

I am fed up with door to door salesmen (and without being sexist, it is mainly men I find involved in this line of work) praying on the elderly. I had a recent example of this with a group called SIG Energy Management, who were trying to sell loft and cavity wall insulation. I am a full time carer to my elderly mother, who suffers from Alzahiemers disease and is not in command of all her faculties, unfortunately, I cannot be at home with her all the time, as I have various errands to perform.

About a couple of months ago, a man from this company, called at the house, while, I was out and my elderly mother answered the door, he must have known she was not remotely in command of her faculties and should have asked whether anyone else was in, and in finding there was’nt, should just have left a broucher. Instead, he managed to gain entry into the house and hoodwink my confused alzaheimer’s suffering mother, into signing a contract for insulation work to be done in the house and even had the date fixed for when the work would commence and even took measurements and asked to see my mother’s passport and utility bills. Of course, we did not remotely want or need this work, our house is modern and quite adequately heated. I came home ot find a green covering form from this company, where to my horror, I saw m y mum’ signature’s all over the form, agreeing to this and that. I then tried to get her to remember what she had done, but because of her acute memory loss, she could not even remember anything about it. My main worry, thought was whether any money had parted and the stress it caused me in having to check bank accounts and wallets, all because of some (and I will use that word) who was using methods, i personally regard as little different from the methods out and out criminals use when praying on the old and vulnerable. Fortunately, no money, had parted company, but as I said in a stinking letter to the company (of which I got no reply), you still stole her dignity, asking for personal documents, which that same louse had no right to see and I reminded them that my mother served her country in the 2nd World War. I managed to cancel the contract as there was a space on the green form for a signature cancelling the whole thing at the bottom of the form, which I got my mum to sign, but I should not have been forced to do this. Oh, and lastly, I did also phone the company’s head office and was put through to a woman, who was’nt the remotest bit apologetic, and kept saying sarcastic comments, such as “you’re getting worked up, are’nt you”, of which I think my reply was, “yes, and with good cause!”.

Oliver says:
19 September 2012

So your mother received FREE cavity and loft insulation saving her 100’s of pounds a year! what a horrible man so sorting that out for her! jesus some people will moan about anything

n.macdonald says:
13 December 2011

The problem is a caller,who claims to work for a charity to help handicapped children,and goes around doors selling household goods,he first came to the area in 2005,thinking it was for a good cause i bought an article costing £5,which at the time was a bit pricey,some 6 months later,he returned,only this time i bought cleaning cloths,room fresheners,and chamois for the car,the price came to £16,again i thought was rather steep.I asked my next door neighbour who so happens to be a retired policeman,who was talked into buying more items,his bill came to £43,as time went by the caller was returning more frequently,one time my late mother awnsered the door when i was doing a bit of painting,he talked her into buying a swiss watch,for £29-99p from a “true value” of £129-99p.it was much later when i discovered it was worthless.
This particular chancer operates around the Stirling area,including raploch and dunblane,i havnt seen him for over 2 years now to confront him about that watch,he carries an identity card,but that dousnt make him genuine,i personally beleive,if he is doing charity for handicapped children,he’s also doing charity for his back pocket,my suspicion..

T Peach says:
25 February 2012

I think yuou people are all being a little hard on doorstep sales people. And before you jump to the conclusion that I am one, I am not. I am in sales but in the business to business arena and a salaried position rather than commission only. Although I have done door to door sales before many years ago.

As one poster pointed out previously not ALL door to door sales people are bad, just a few bad apples that create the bad stories that we hear. Obviously (and again I think someone posted this previously) many people are happy to buy on the doorstep, otherwise the whole industry just wouldn’t exist.

As for the poster who commented that swapping suppliers requires time to consider. Please!!! What are yuou going to consider? I mean its not like your actually going to get different gas is it. What do you think will happen when yuou swap suppliers? Are you expecting the lights to glow a different colour maybe? Energy contracts in the UK are not long term contracts and you can switch with just 30 days notice. Plus yuou enjoy the cooling off period from date of signature. So, really, how much time do you need to consider? If something comes along that ‘sounds good’ just do it, whats the worst that can happen? You can always change.

The fact remains that face to face selling remains the most effective form of customer acquisition and it is highly unlikely to go away. It exists mainly because we (and I mean especially British people) are sceptical, untrusting and too darn lazy to seek out better deals. So we NEED that extra push to do things. OItherwise we’d all be on price comparison sites at least yearly looking for the best deal and switching regularly. Statistics suggest w are not!!!

I’m fortunate that my energy company GUARANTEE to save me money, and give me CASHBACK on all my Groceries, shooping, diesel, clothes and entertainment which translates into about them paying about 35-40% of my energy bill every month. And they won Which? magazines ‘Best Energy Provider’ every year since 2008!

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