Some small domestic energy suppliers are turning back to doorstep energy sales to try and drum up more business.
The doorstep selling techniques were, for many energy companies, stopped several years ago, because of widespread concerns about malpractice.
Now it seems that the techniques are being unearthed again, primarily by smaller energy companies who will be seeking a competitive advantage now that prices are on the increase.
It is understood that about a dozen smaller suppliers are engaged in doorstep selling techniques – which are legal – but which don’t often get the best deal.
Several energy suppliers including First Utility and Ovo Energy are signed up to a panel operated by a company called Money Expert.
MoneySavingExpert.com highlighted the fact that several of its users had confused their company with Money Expert.
Consumer advice groups are encouraging domestic energy customers to shop around for energy in their own time and use price comparison services to find the best deal.
For non-domestic groups advice is similar – either compare as many business energy quotes as possible or use a trustworthy business energy comparison service
like the one offered by Utility Helpline to find the best deal.
Representatives of two of the companies involved defended using door-to-door salesmen.
A spokesperson for First Utility said: "We believe that responsible face-to-face selling is an effective way to help alert the millions of disengaged energy customers that are paying too much for their energy but that are harder to reach via online channels.
"We are committed to doing this in a responsible, fair and transparent way, following all of the Ofgem and best practice guidelines. We closely monitor the activity and have very close governance in place to ensure it meets our strict standards."
An Ovo Energy spokesperson added: "Ovo Energy engages with customers in a variety of innovative ways through direct and indirect and online and offline channels.
"Our partnership with Money Expert is one such channel which we believe will encourage disengaged customers to switch away from incumbent suppliers to our fairer, cheaper deals and award winning customer service.”
Richard Bonelle, Energy Manager at Utility Helpline said: “Smaller energy companies are still, on the whole, cheaper than the big six energy companies. But as wholesale prices go up, the smaller companies won’t be able to compete as easily on price. So it looks like they are trying to find a new advantage.
“The Big Six energy companies have already stopped using these door-to-door sales practices following complaints from customers and regulators. Some of the smaller suppliers obviously think that they can hang onto this advantage as long as they play by the rules.
“There is some merit to the idea of targeting the customers who don’t regularly switch, or don’t feel comfortable using the internet to find the best rates. But I think comparison sites and genuine energy broker comparison services are still the best way to go for individuals and businesses.”