Energy regulator Ofgem is under even greater pressure to halt the energy companies’ bullying of their business customers and create a single industry standard, after a shocking new survey by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) revealed widespread retail abuse.
The survey, which polled convenience store owners across the country, revealed that 31% of retailers had been overcharged in the last year, while 27% had been hit with backdated bills, requiring them to pay out thousands or risk disconnection. A further 32% also claimed to have had their contracts automatically ‘rolled over’.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “For too long now, energy companies have been tying their business customers into unfair contracts and tariffs, leaving hard working businesses like local shops no option but to pay over the odds for their energy usage.”
The ACS is calling on Ofgem to outlaw rollover contracts and limit the backbilling period to 12 months.
With 28% of retailers also saying that there was a lack of help and guidance on energy tariffs, the ACS is also demanding that suppliers give business customers better information on choosing tariffs.
Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint MP has added her voice to the call. “Lots of firms are getting caught out by the small print. To add insult to injury, when energy companies give dodgy meter readings or get the bill wrong, small businesses can be forced to pick up the tab for up to six years. The rip-off has to stop,” she said.
Earlier this year Convenience Store magazine, in association with Utilities Direct, launched a new energy switching scheme to help retailers save money on their bills. Visit http://convstore.udswitchit.co.uk/electricandgas.aspx to get a live quote within seconds and switch online.