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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 December, 2003, 06:36 GMT
Power firms 'ignore code of practice'
Mystery shoppers discovered the code is ignored
Gas and energy suppliers are failing to protect customers in the North West from rogue salesmen, according to a survey carried out by an independent watchdog.

Researchers from energywatch called all the major suppliers asking how they could protect an elderly aunt who had previously been mis-sold energy.

The call centre staff told 'mystery shoppers' the only way to make sure their aunt was not conned again was to make sure she did not answer the door to energy salespeople.

David Sidebottom, regional director of energywatch North West, said the advice given "defies belief."

The survey was intended to test industry commitment to a marketing code of practice, which is meant to give protection to customers so they are not sold power incorrectly.

'Inadequate advice'

But 85% of call centre staff had never heard of the code, and 34% could not name any of the basic rules protecting people from mis-selling.

Energywatch fear people could be missing out on an automatic 250 compensation payout if their signatures are forged.

Only 0.3% of call centre staff told callers that they qualified for compensation under the code of practice guidelines.

"I am shocked to find that frontline staff, who should be fully aware of the code and the seriousness of mis-selling, are not able to advise customers adequately," Mr Sidebottom added.

Mr Sidebottom said one of the helpline staff who was aware of the code told an energywatch caller: "There is a code but no-one takes any notice of it. They can do whatever they want."

Big rise in energy complaints
11 Sep 03  |  Business

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