You pay your utilities bills on time and then, out of the blue, your supplier (Scottish Power in this case) informs you that your credit rating isn't all it might be and it therefore requires a £250 security payment which is non-refundable until the credit score is up to scratch. Oh, and if you don't forward the deposit, your supplies will be cut off on April 1 when the contract is due for renewal.

Fay Davies, who runs two post offices in Senghenydd in South Wales, wondered whether this was happening to others.

The short answer is yes.

I sent Fay to www.makeitcheaper.com which incorporates Energyhelpline. The company acts like a broker in that it shops around for the best energy deal for retailers, but doesn't charge them. I've been sending retailers there for a couple of years. They not only got her a slightly cheaper rate, but with a company (EDF) not requiring a deposit.

However, the trend is here, says Make It Cheaper's Nick Heath. He comments: "There are tens of thousands of different gas and electricity tariffs for businesses and 10 or 12 different variables such as postcode and consumption to determine which of the lowest rates each business is eligible for. Company credit score has become one of the most important of these variables and we are seeing a minimum threshold being required by suppliers, even on renewing customers. This particular example is of a customer paying well historically, but who happens to have a low credit score. This shows how the suppliers' broad-brush strategy of relying on credit score alone is not always the best strategy. After all, the reverse could happen where a customer with a high score could become a bad payer."

Quite. And one should also look at the reasons behind a low credit score. It could be because of an argument with another supplier and a stopped payment. Credit scores today certainly ain't the be-all and end-all.