Ofgem found that a failure of SSE’s management arrangements meant that insufficient attention was paid to ensuring compliance with obligations. This enabled misleading and unsubstantiated statements to be made by sales agents to potential customers about savings.SSE’s door to door sales team, their in-store teams and their in-house and contracted telesales teams made misleading and inaccurate statements to customers in order to induce a sale. Examples include:
- telling some customers that they would save money when in fact they were switched on to a more expensive contract
- telling some customers that they could make larger savings if they switched to SSE than were possible
- telling the customer that by switching to SSE they would be getting the full reductions they’re entitled to, “just like the government intended”
- telling the customer that other suppliers were making “all sorts of false promises”
- telling the customer that other suppliers were putting their prices up, or that other suppliers’ price increases were higher than they actually were
- suggesting to customers that SSE can put them on a “preferred customer tariff … with no standing charge if you want”, omitting that those customers would be charged higher first tier unit rates instead of a standing charge.
Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s Senior Partner in charge of enforcement said:
In order to restore trust in the energy market suppliers must comply with their obligations and play it straight with consumers. 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.