Committee Shock at Rogue Trading

Session: 2011/2012

Date: 27 October 2011

Reference: ETI 04/11/12

At its meeting today the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade & Investment heard of suspicions that people using home heating oil may be being short-changed in their deliveries.

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) raised the issue as part of its briefing to the Committee on its recently published study into the Off-Grid Energy Market. Off-grid energy includes oil, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and electricity.

Speaking after the meeting, Committee Chair, Alban Maginness MLA said: “The OFT told us that while compiling its report it found that, in some instances, consumers were paying less for their home heating oil than suppliers are buying it for. This does not make economic sense. One possible reason OFT gave for this could be short-measuring – meaning the supplier delivers less than the consumer is being charged for.

“While at this stage this is just a possibility, it naturally caused the Committee a lot of concern. We have agreed to investigate the matter with Trading Standards in Northern Ireland. With 80% of Northern Ireland homes using oil it is vitally important to make sure this sort of practice is not allowed to happen.

“It would be very wrong if it were found that members of the public are being unfairly exploited in this way. Not least at a time when household budgets are so stretched. Should evidence be found to substantiate these concerns we will be looking for suppliers to be dealt with appropriately and for measures to be put in place to ensure it does not happen again. Consumers must be protected from this sort of rogue trading.” 

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