Today Ofgem announced its intentions to fine one of the big six energy suppliers, Scottish and Southern Electric, £10.5m over several breaches of misconduct in relation to mis-selling.
Ofgem revealed that ‘from the opening lines on the doorstep, in-store or over the phone through to the confirmation process which follows a sale’, SSE failed to provide clear, accurate information on pricing and savings that would allow a consumer to make an educated decision on switching energy suppliers.
“In order to restore trust in the energy market suppliers must comply with their obligations and play it straight with consumers,” stated Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s Senior Partner in charge of enforcement.
“Ofgem’s findings show SSE failed its customers, missold to them and undermined trust in the energy supply industry.
“These failings did not just take place on the doorstep but also in the management of SSE. Ofgem’s fine reflects an absence of effective management control over energy selling.”
Harrison made it clear that Ofgem’s intentions with slapping the supplier with a record fine are in large part to send a message:
“Ofgem will hold to account those companies which fail to treat consumers fairly. It is time for the energy industry to take note and get behind Ofgem’s reforms to rebuild trust and make the market simpler, clearer and fairer for consumers.”
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: “This is shocking news, especially given the magnitude of the fine. We welcome such a significant move by Ofgem – it is vital that trust is restored in the industry.
“Confidence in the energy market is at an all-time low. Customers have lost faith and have no confidence in how to make the market work for them. They have a right to expect fair dealings, but at the moment, when it comes to energy suppliers it seems to be a case of ‘better the devil you know’ – at a time when customers can ill afford to stay put with the same supplier.”
Robinson believes the supplier should have taken action, alerting customers who may have been effected by the mis-selling, as Ofgem admits that it does not currently have the ability to force suppliers to compensate consumers in these cases.
SSE currently has in place a £5m fund set aside from which customers can receive payment over mis-selling. Robinson encourages those who believe they have been missold to by SSE to reach the company via their dedicated mis-selling phone number: 0845 0707 388.