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Momentum gathers to halt auto-rollover of business energy contracts

E.ON may have championed the cause to protect business energy customers from automatically rolling over contracts at the end of their fixed term period. But British Gas is quickest out the blocks as the first Big 6 supplier to actually commit to an end to auto rollover.

British Gas Business released a statement earlier today promising that –

  • They will no longer sell auto-rollover contracts from 1 September 2013
  • They will implement a new process for renewing the contracts of existing customers – without an auto-rollover – which will begin in June 2014

“Business customers will no longer be sold products that automatically commit them to further fixed term contracts by British Gas”, the energy supplier announced today, adding “After completing the necessary changes to our billing systems, the old auto-rollover process will have ended for all customers by June 2014.”

The news is even better for customers new to British Gas Business; they will be offered fixed-term products without the auto-rollover from September 1st 2013.

Under this contract, at the end of the fixed period, British Gas Business will write to customers to offer further fixed term options, or a choice of a variable tariff, which though more expensive they can leave at short notice to take an opportunity elsewhere in the market.

Existing customers who reach the end of an existing contract before June 2014 will be able to move to a non-rollover contract if they discuss this at the point of renewal.

Stephen Beynon, Managing Director of British Gas Business, said:

“Increasing numbers of our small business customers have told us they don’t like the way the energy industry automatically moves them onto new contracts, so we’ve decided we will lead the way and put an end to this practice for our customers.

“We’re the first supplier to announce an end to auto-rollover contracts and we’re calling on the industry and the regulator to work together to ensure that all customers have a transparent choice of products that never include auto-rollover.”

Prime Minister David Cameron, supported by the SME Energy Working Group founded by his advisors and our CEO James Constant, backed the move saying that:

“Small businesses are the engine of our economy and I am committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to help them succeed. Whether that is support to grow, cutting red tape or the lowest energy bills, we have to do everything possible to provide the environment in which they can flourish.

“Last year I committed to ensuring that consumers get the best possible tariff from their supplier. I know that auto-rollovers have similarly been a big issue facing small business so two months ago; I set up a cross-industry group on this issue. I am therefore delighted to welcome British Gas’s leadership and I hope that other suppliers will rapidly follow suit.”

So, whilst cautious congratulations should go to our CEO and his fellow working group members for forcing this move, we should watch this space for news of other suppliers taking up the opportunity to make a genuine difference to business energy consumers across the UK.  


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