British Gas has announced that it may stop door-to-door selling. We’re cracking out the Cava, but probably won’t be onto the champagne until we can see companies move away from pressure sales altogether.
When we asked what you thought about cold callers on Which? Convo, we had an overwhelming response.
Of the more than 1,000 who voted, 95% of you said you’d rather doorstep sellers didn’t come to your house at all.
And now – hooray! – at least one company is thinking of stopping it altogether. Its official reason is that because other energy companies have been mis-selling tariffs, British Gas doesn’t want to be associated with them. But surely part of the reason must be that consumers, like you and me, really don’t like it?
No one likes to be pressured into buying something they don’t want, but it’s not just door-to-door sales that make people feel harassed – phone sales also make us uncomfortable.
The results of our energy sales survey in May were, perhaps, unsurprising. Of the 44% of people who’d been phoned by an energy company in the last 12 months, six out of ten felt under pressure to switch.
And I think pressure selling is more of an issue with energy companies than any other industry, since comparing energy tariffs is so complicated in the first place. Ideally everyone would have the option to compare tariffs before they signed on the dotted line, but with doorstep sales that’s frequently not the case.
Can you imagine a salesperson waiting patiently with a cup of tea while you double-checked their claims on an energy switching site? Me neither.
Better rules for salespeople
There isn’t enough consumer protection, either. Although you do have some rights when people sell you things door-to-door, we don’t think the code is strict enough. You can get compensation if someone ‘misrepresents’ a product, but only in specific circumstances. It wouldn’t get you compensation if you were messed around by the latest SSE mis-selling tactics, for example.
So although it’s great that my dinner won’t be interrupted by British Gas any time soon, I think we’ve still got further to go. Both door-to-door and phone sales are frustrating for the majority of consumers.
Although I wouldn’t ask for them to be banned outright (there are, after all, some people who think they’re a useful way to find out about new products), I do think that companies should have a serious rethink about their tactics. In my opinion, if your customer buys your product just to get rid of you, you haven’t done a very good job.