We moved premises recently, and apart from the usual strife of transferring phone lines and DSL lines, where the phone provider and BT Wholesale blamed each other continuously, delaying our move for nearly a month we were then assaulted with calls from so called business energy providers promising us the best fuel deal on our new premises.
The first one to call got blocked a few times before getting to me, but their creativity grew over a period of 48 hours and 6 calls…. I finally got passed the call as they were an ex-client! Can you believe that? They then proceeded to tell me that they were the UK’s largest supplier of energy and that they were previously known as the National Grid! I asked them for their company name, Network Electricity! Sounds grand doesn’t it? Alarm bells rang, and I asked them to call back in a few days.
Time marches on, and I have a busy marketing department to run, so when they called me back I was caught off guard, but whilst on the phone I ‘Googled’ the company name and discovered they had no web site, no PPC and at best just a couple of free directory listings.
Anyway, the salesperson was pushy and explained that she had a deal expiring the same day offering us a 4 year lock-in to take advantage of fuel prices, (non-negotiable with penalty clauses). All of which she said, despite the drop in energy prices that month, are still set to go up the next day. I said I needed more information on the tariffs and providers and she promised to send them via email that day.
Guess what, Our email spam detectors didn’t even let the emails through! Now with my suspicions aroused I waited for her to call. Which, give her credit for, she did 2 days later. I then asked her to send the emails to my personal Gmail account which she did, and I received the following email.
Below are both OPUS & E-ON Rates which were discussed earlier on the phone.
OPUS fixed for 48 months
Standing Charge: 37.49
Unit Rate: 12.99
E-ON fixed for 36 months
Standing Charge: 30.81
Unit Rate: 13.28
If you have any problems please feel free to call me on 01204 898033
Hardly detailed is it!
I quizzed her a bit more on the company she represented and she was still adamant they were previously known as the National Grid. I mentioned the lack of an Internet presence, and the fact that they didn’t look like a large company capable of selling utilities to business.
She hung up on me…
This was a real case of attempted sharp selling, What I will say is beware Network Electricity based in Wigan.
Since the first call, we’ve had over 20 different companies trying to sell us a fuel deal and I’m sure some of them are professional, but I for one won’t take another call from a fuel supply intermediary because of the damage done to their collective reputation by the first cold caller.
Just beware of these idiots on the phone, and warn your staff likewise. the major energy players need to take heed as well. If they weren’t offering MLM type payouts to these intermediaries instead of managing the sales channel themselves they wouldn’t be damaging their brand equity in the SME marketplace. After all, their consumer image is already pretty screwed isn’t it?
Come on guys, wake up and smell the gas, 2009 could get very tough for brands that don’t behave themselves…