New database prompts cold call concerns

Proposals for energy contract database of micro-businesses lead to fears of retailers being bombarded with nuisance calls.

Retailers fear they will be hounded by nuisance calls if proposals for a new database of micro-businesses are put in place.

The plans form part of the Competition and Market Authority’s energy market investigation. They include a new Ofgem-supervised database of micro-businesses on default tariffs that suppliers can use to contact them with deals.

The CMA said it would be subject to “strict safeguards” with opt-out clauses, but retailers told Retail Express it would open the floodgates to more cold calls.

“Nuisance calls are a major issue for me,” said Hitesh Pandya of Toni’s News in Ramsgate, Kent. “Once they start sharing databases, the calls will be endless. I get calls all the time, 10 a day, minimum. It’s absolutely relentless. I spend all day having the same conversations. I even get them up to 11 at night.”

Peter Robinson of Premier Castle Stores in Pembroke, Dyfed, added: “We never go a day without someone ringing one of the branches wanting to improve our electricity deal.”

On the plus side for retailers, the CMA plans to end auto-rollover energy contracts, make it easier to terminate their contracts and ensure that small businesses are provided with competitive quotes for their gas and electricity.

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter said: “The NFRN welcomes the remedy to end auto-rollover contracts for micro-business customers, and the extension of the time window for micro-businesses to give termination notice to suppliers, as the majority of our members have a lot of time constraints.

“However, we would be firmly against any increases in cold or nuisance calls arising from this new database. Our members have neither the time nor the trust to want to arrange changing supplier over the phone.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman added: “This must be regulated to ensure that micro-businesses are not hounded by suppliers to switch.”


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