A few days after I agreed a lease on retail premises, I was cold called and talked into a two-year contract with energy company BES. I had decided on another supplier but, due to a calculating error, thought BES offered a better deal. Instead, it was far more expensive. I phoned BES the next day, and was assured I could cancel. However, the switch to my first-choice supplier was blocked, and I was then told that although I had not yet been sent the terms and conditions, the telephone agreement was legally binding and I’d have to pay a termination fee equivalent to six months’ supply.
Small businesses don’t benefit from the 14-day cooling-off period – or many other protections granted to householders. This is a significant shortcoming since new businesses are a target for brokers offering energy deals. It was an independent broker who called you and, although there’s no suggestion you were misled about the tariff, you felt pressured to sign before you could scrutinise the terms and conditions.
BES told me your contract was processed in good faith based on the information you provided and, following what it terms a “comfort call”, your supply was then purchased in advance. It offered you a revised deal after my contact. “BES is committed to full transparency on the part of the independent brokers who sell our products, and we have in place in a number of measures … to ensure customers understand the key terms and conditions and are happy with the conduct of the salesperson prior to a contract being agreed,” it says.
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