Survey Shows Lack Of Consumer Trust In Energy Sales Agents

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26th August 2011 13:45 - Utilities

Consumer Focus surveyed 1,878 consumers in May 2011 about their views on doorstep sales, with a particular focus on the energy sector. Four fifths (82 per cent) of consumers have a negative view about any form of doorstep sales visits, a drop from 2009 when the survey was undertaken last.

41 per cent of respondents had had a doorstep sales visit in the past six months, of these consumers over half (56 per cent) were visited by an energy company sales agent.

The results show that four in every five consumers (79 per cent) have a negative view of doorstep sales by energy companies. Fewer than one in twenty (4 per cent) have positive views about energy sales via this channel. 

Only 1 per cent of respondents consider doorstep sales a valid way to find out about a product or service.

41 per cent of consumers said that they felt most under pressure to buy during the doorstep sales process, followed by telesales (27 per cent) and face to face sales in the street (22 per cent). Over half of women were more likely to feel under pressure to sign up from a door to door salesman (57 per cent).

Online sales were seen as the sales method where consumers experienced the least pressure (15 per cent).
Consumers seem to want companies to be upfront about the reasons why someone has come to their home. Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of consumers agreed that suppliers should not use meter replacement visits or visits to read a meter to sell other products and services.

Moreover, more than three-quarters of those surveyed (79 per cent) agreed that energy suppliers should ask the permission of consumers and pre-arrange an appointment if they wished to sell products or services during a visit to install or read a meter.

Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) wanted energy companies to seek written permission before carrying out any sales presentations.

A similar number (62 per cent) of consumers said they didn’t trust any doorstep sales agents. However, energy sales agents had a slightly more positive reputation than other sectors – being more trusted than agents selling household products, insurance or double glazing (19 per cent compared to 11 per cent, 4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively).

The three biggest reasons cited by consumers for their lack of trust were:

• Not wanting to be pressured into buying products in their own home (41 per cent);
• General distrust of energy suppliers (25 per cent);
• Feeling intimidated by the sales process (16 per cent).

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