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Energy switching: don’t get caught out by contract rules for commercial properties


One Which? member came to us for help after a company set up a new energy contract for their farmhouse without their permission…

A Which? member told us: ‘A company called offering to look at my farmhouse’s electricity bill to see if I was paying too much. I gave it permission to seek information on my behalf. Before sending over my Eon energy bill, I emailed the saleswoman requesting that she didn’t sign anything without my agreement. She agreed. Three days later, I received a welcome letter and a new three-year contract from Dual Energy Ltd, which was much more expensive than my previous one with Eon.

‘I phoned the saleswoman and asked to cancel the contract, but she wouldn’t. I explained my position to Dual Energy and asked it to cancel the contract, but was told that it was too late and I’d have to pay to do so. Dual Energy said that it was acting on the brokers’ information, and that my dispute was with the broker. Within days, the company raised a direct debit for £260.

‘I contacted the Energy Ombudsman, who was very helpful, and wrote to the broker and Dual Energy to warn them that I had done this. Soon afterwards, I was switched back to Eon.’

Our advice on cancelling contracts

Commercial energy switching services may target domestic high energy users as well as households that run a limited business out of their home. It’s known that there are some energy brokers who cold-call claiming to be from an official meter registration service and seek to arrange a ‘verbal contract’ over the phone.

If you find that you’ve entered into a new contract, you can normally cancel within 14 days under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

However, the same rules don’t apply for commercial properties as they do for domestic properties. And as this was a business-to-business contract for this member’s farmhouse, the cooling-off period didn’t apply.

In this circumstance this member did all the right things to get their money back by appealing to the supplier, the broker and then the ombudsman for redress.

So have you spotted a cold call service like this one? Or have you found yourself trapped in a contract like this? What did you do?

Colin Massey says:
28 June 2016

I have been cold called by a number of energy companies.

bishbut says:
29 June 2016

They might try to cold call me but will get nowhere at all because I do not answer any calls that do not come from names on my calls list I add and delete names when I wish or do not want to get calls from any company or organisation

28 June 2016

Hi everyone, I have had this cold calling from energy companies including a smaller newest one, I thought it was now illegal to do this.

I know they use the Electional Role to obtain your details and then check the phone book to call you, mostly elderly couples and persons living alone, plus your credit checks. This is very wrong and needs to stop.
R. Nock