Ofgem is understood to have shelved plans to build a giant customer database to allow energy firms to target potential customers with cheap tariffs after what the regulator described as “issues” during trials.
No details have been released about what the problems were although with new date being set, sources believe it could be on the back-burner indefinitely. It was originally pencilled in for a “soft” launch last month.
The proposal followed an 18-month investigation into the energy market by the Competition & Markets Authority. It proposed that anyone who has been on a standard tariff for three years or more will have their details automatically put on a central database, managed by Ofgem.
The move had sparked warnings that the direct marketing industry could be set back 20 years to the dark days of junk mail.
The competition regulator had insisted only “targeted marketing” would be permitted but with nearly 40 suppliers in the UK energy market, but even if companies were only permitted to send three each, customers could receive more than 100 mailshots each.
At the time, the co-founder of collective switching company TheBigDeal.com, Will Hodson, branded the plans “naive”, adding that the proposal “would take exploited customers out of the pan and into the fire of a thousand cynical sales pitches”.
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