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C-stores have welcomed new protections for non-domestic energy users but told Retail Express they won’t be happy until Downing Street tackles back-billing.
Energy minister Gregory Barker has confirmed the Energy Bill’s consumer redress powers will apply to businesses as well as homes. The measures will let energy regulator Ofgem fine suppliers that treat customers unfairly, and use the money to compensate consumers.
“We in the Government are keenly aware of the very real issues faced by local shops and other small businesses. It is therefore essential that all consumers, non-domestic and domestic alike, are able to get compensation when energy companies break the rules,” he said. The ACS, which has campaigned for fairer energy rules, said it was ‘delighted’ that the redress provisions would cover local shops.
Retailer Sailendra Patel of Monks Beyfern Ltd in Croydon also welcomed the amendments. “It’s definitely a good move. I don’t see why non-domestic customers should be treated differently in the first place.”
However, Mr Patel said the Government should do more to tackle the practice of back-billing, which involves suppliers charging consumers for underpaying electricity – even when the error is the energy company’s fault.
Mr Patel was hit with a bill for almost £18,000 after nPower incorrectly read his energy meter. He said suppliers should pay redress to customers who have suffered because of their blunders. “They should do more. It’s their mistake, it’s their error. If I mis-price my goods I can’t then go to the customer and tell them to pay the difference.”
In a separate development, Ofgem has called for more powers to act against energy brokers that mislead businesses and cut back-billing to one year.
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