Our campaign to prevent retailers getting caught in the gas and electricity providers' 'rollover trap' received a huge boost in March when Ofgem, the industry regulator, announced that it was looking at outlawing the assumptive renewal clause in suppliers' contracts with small businesses.

But our celebrations were short lived, as it soon emerged that Ofgem's definition of a small business would exclude many convenience stores.

This could also mean that you are not entitled to the services of the Energy Ombudsman, which assists with disputes over energy bills, changing suppliers and the power companies' questionable sales tactics.

Ofgem's definition of a small business is one which employs fewer than the equivalent of 10 full time staff; which uses less than 200,000kWh of gas per year or 55,000kWh of electricity; and where annual turnover is less than E2m (£1.69m). Many convenience retail businesses, with long opening hours and power-hungry electrical equipment, are likely to fall down on at least two of those counts, particularly if they operate more than one store.

So the next phase of our Fight The Power campaign will see us joining the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) in calling for all independent retailers to be able to benefit from Ofgem's reforms.

ACS chief executive James Lowman says: "Ofgem's recommendations will only protect micro businesses, and will exclude a large number of vulnerable businesses for whom there is now no body dedicated to assisting them in legal battles with energy companies. We would like to see the protection extended to SMEs with up to 250 employees."

He adds that many of the association's members feel bullied by the power barons. "ACS receives numerous calls from retailers concerned about the way they have been treated by their energy supplier. We would like to see Ofgem support those who don't have the resources to stand up for themselves.

"Banning rollover contracts will force energy suppliers to be more open in their dealings and give retailers back more control over their energy costs and supply arrangements. This is a good first step, but there is a long way to go to redress the balance in favour of small business customers."

Other changes the industry would like to see Ofgem impose include restrictions on the suppliers' use of bailiffs and threatening phone calls, a ban on backdated payments in cases where the provider was at fault, and a requirement for energy companies to keep records to prove that customers received the letters they were sent.

ACS has responded to Ofgem's consultation and C-Store will also write to the regulator to urge it to introduce measures which will bring about a fairer deal for all c-store businesses.
What we're calling for:
● A dedicated body to assist all businesses with up to 250 employees in legal battles

● Guidelines on the use of bailiffs, threatening letters and phone calls by suppliers

● A restriction on suppliers' backdating of payments when they are at fault

● Clarity in communications and records of letters received by customers.