By Marcus Leach

British Gas has announced that it is formally ending unsolicited doorstep sales.

In the future, the energy supplier will only visit a potential customer's home to talk about energy with their prior agreement, and at an agreed time.

On 12 August 2011, British Gas announced it was halting its doorstep energy sales activity for an initial three-month period. The company has worked with its customers and staff to run trials and explore different ways to offer face-to-face energy sales advice that customers find both acceptable and convenient.

Feedback has confirmed a demand for face-to-face advice, but only on a customer's terms and without the pressure from an unannounced sales visit.

As a result, British Gas will now offer face-to-face advice in a number of different ways:

- It will continue to offer face-to-face advice - including energy efficiency advice - to customers in their homes, workplaces, or other suitable location, but only with a pre-arranged appointment.

- The existing partnership with Sainsbury's will continue to grow, with more Sainsbury's Energy Advisers available in store. (This service has already attracted 110,000 new accounts since its launch in January 2011.)

- There will be a new team of advisers who will make publicised, pre-arranged visits to local venues, such as shopping centres and community centres, to highlight the products and services available from British Gas.

-They will also attend community events and shows.

"Since we announced a halt to unsolicited doorstep selling, feedback from our customers and staff has been very encouraging," Ian Peters, Managing Director, Energy, British Gas said.

"Many of our customers choose to do business over the telephone or online, but there is also still a very real demand for face-to-face energy advice among customers - as long as it's delivered at a time and place that's convenient for them.

"We will continue to work closely with our current sales-force and their representatives to provide support, and help identify potential alternative opportunities in our new community sales teams."

British Gas will continue to consult with its existing sales-force on the future options available to individuals. Some members of the existing sales-force may be able to move to new roles - for example, with Sainsbury's Energy or as community sales advisors, however it is unlikely there will be enough roles for all, and it is therefore going to be difficult to avoid some redundancies. British Gas will work to support those who are affected during this difficult time.

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