ACS: energy companies must stop bullying small businesses

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Energy companies are bullying small business customers and costing them thousands of pounds each year, with small companies powerless to challenge them, according to the ACS (Association of Convenience Stores).

It claims basic rights afforded to domestic customers are denied to small businesses.

In its response to the Ofgem Retail Market Review, ACS has now called for businesses to receive the same protections afforded to domestic customers and end the harmful practices that cost small businesses thousands of pounds every year.

Currently energy companies can claim money from business customers for a number of years of errant billing through no fault of the customer, said the ACS. The energy companies can also automatically rollover their contracts with business customers, leaving the customer unable to negotiate and creating confusion with regard to notice periods.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Energy companies are abusing their relationship with small businesses in a way that would never be allowed for the general public. These double standards need to stop, and the measures we are proposing would give business customers the same basic rights as domestic consumers.”

In its submission, ACS has called on Ofgem to:

  • Limit the length of time that energy companies can backdate bills to 12 months
  • Stop automatic rollover contracts
  • Introduce a more effective procedure for handling complaints
  • Introduce a new code of practice for TPIs
  • Prevent excessive use of the objections procedure

Lowman said: “For too long, energy companies have had a free reign over businesses and have been able to tie them up into unreasonable contracts. We must see a complete overhaul of the way energy companies do business with their non-domestic customers and a more effective procedure for handling complaints.”