Energy protection call for small retailers
Energy watchdog Ofgem should do more to protect small retailers from bullying energy suppliers, says the Association of Convenience Stores.Ofgem recently announced that it plans to end the practice of retailers being given rolling energy contracts. These give retailers only a short negotiation period near the en d of their energy contract, and if they fail to agree terms or move to a new supplier they can be locked into their existing supplier, at increased rates, for up to two years.
Some small retailers have also been given backdated bills covering periods of up to four years, and claim that the disputes process is loaded in favour of the energy suppliers.
The ACS supports Ofgem's plans to force energy companies to change their ways but believes the watchdog should go further.
“Many of our members feel bullied by energy companies,” says ACS chief executive James Lowman. “We are disappointed that Ofgem have not gone far enough in several areas. Their recommendations will only protect micro businesses, will exclude a large number of vulnerable businesses and do not adequately fill the hole left by the demise of Energywatch which means there is now no body dedicated to assisting businesses in legal battles with energy companies.”
The ACS is calling for a dedicated body to assist businesses in legal disputes, a longer discussion period before bailiffs can be appointed and better records of correspondence, as many retailers claim not to have received letters the energy companies claim to have sent.
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