There is a good reason most major energy suppliers ditched doorstep selling nearly a decade ago.
And that’s because it is a mis-selling scandal waiting to happen. Yet with almost everyone stuck at home, some face-to-face sellers just couldn’t resist trying to cash in on a captive audience.
And as we report today, there is nothing these sharks won’t say or do, no low they won’t sink to, if it means you’ll sign on the dotted line.
Cold callers prey on the elderly and vulnerable. They know they are more likely to be at home to answer the door and are less likely to be confident shopping around online (stock picture)
Even worse, knowing they stand a better chance of closing a deal if they can just get a foot inside the door, they have put people’s lives at risk by waltzing into their homes without even having the decency to wear a face mask.
Cold callers prey on the elderly and vulnerable. They know they are more likely to be at home to answer the door and are less likely to be confident online.
Yet as we’ve seen time and again, if cynical firms incentivise staff with commission, bonuses and ‘leader boards’, what’s actually best for the customer goes out the window. It becomes about the hard sell, where telling lies is acceptable if it means you’ll take home a little extra bacon.
Energy and telecom providers have been quick to distance themselves from the marketing firms named and shamed in our report.
But they have a responsibility to ensure the companies they work with are fit to represent them —particularly if they are visiting vulnerable people at home.
My advice is: shut the door.
Cheque it out
NS&I’s chief executive, Ian Ackerley, is a nice guy who never hides from difficult conversations.
But his desperate quest to appeal to youngsters is causing him to forget his most loyal customers. During our conversation last week, Mr Ackerley was deeply apologetic about the Government bank’s call centre meltdown.
But when it came to NS&I’s decision to axe Premium Bond cheques, he didn’t seem to understand what the fuss was about.
‘We’ve given customers six months’ notice,’ he said. ‘And the majority of prizes already go out electronically.’
Never mind the five million savers, many of whom have been customers for decades, who still bank on receiving their prize money in the post.
If NS&I wants to avoid losing touch with its customers entirely, it should worry a little less about website redesigns and catchy Instagram posts – and instead focus on earning back savers’ trust with some decent service.
If you have thoughts on the matter please do write to us at money firstname.lastname@example.org or Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT.
I’ll be sure to pass your comments on to Mr Ackerley.
Tax guilt trip
Debt collectors working on behalf of HM Revenue & Customs are back in business after a brief reprieve – and they are trying out a new tactic.
Gone are the usual aggressive demands. Taxpayers now face being guilt-tripped instead.
‘Covid-19 has damaged the UK economy, which means more than ever it is important that tax debts are collected to help it recover,’ one letter reads.
‘These are also needed to continue to fund vital public services like the NHS.’ You might say fair enough — it’s just a shame the letter had been sent out in error.
An update for disgruntled Virgin Media customers.
After naming and shaming the telecoms giant as one of the most complained-about firms this year, I promised to pass on your tales of woe for investigation.
In total I sent Virgin a dossier of around 100 emails and letters, which it has promised to work through as quickly as possible. Many cases have already been resolved.
If you do not hear back it could be because you did not provide enough detail for the firm to identify your account so you will need to contact Virgin direct.
A spokesman told Money Mail that ‘providing our customers with great service is a top priority’.
This is very reassuring to hear — but customers need action not words.