Energy watchdog needed for business customers

11 August 2008
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12 August 2008 | Paul Snell

Businesses do not receive the same "fair and transparent" service from their energy suppliers as domestic customers, a business group has warned.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said there were a number of "serious flaws" in the way energy firms deal with businesses, which are more vulnerable to exploitation and unfair practice.

While domestic suppliers are required to publish tariffs, business suppliers are not. Household customers are also allowed to switch contracts every 28 days, while business customers are often forced to commit to long-term contracts. Verbal contracts are also binding for businesses whereas domestic customers have a "cooling off" period.

"With the economy slowing and energy bills on the rise it is totally unacceptable that hard-pressed businesses are left so open to exploitation by energy suppliers," said BCC director general David Frost.

With the merger of Energywatch, which provided help and advice for businesses as well as domestic customers, with other consumer groups in October this year, the BCC wants a new watchdog established to specifically focus on the needs and concerns of business.

The BCC also called on Ofgem's investigation into the energy industry (Web news, February 22) to hold suppliers accountable for their lack of transparency.


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