Big Six Supplier Fined For Sending Inaccurate Customer Statements
The big six energy supplier SSE will be paying a £1 million fine for sending over a million misleading statements to their customers. This includes some of the most vulnerable in society.
The fine has been issued by industry regulator Ofgem. They stated that SSE had failed to act promptly to correct the matter, essentially by ‘not identifying the issue at an early stage and by not escalating action to address it or putting in place appropriate remedial actions’.
Inaccurate Statements and Incorrect Tariff Details
The misinformation purposefully sent to customers by SSE included annual statements which had incorrect details regarding cheaper tariffs that were available to their customers. There were also inaccurate estimates of the savings their customers could make by switching to those alternate deals, meaning customers could have made important decisions which were not actually in their own best interests.
Ofgem did add that they believe little harm has actually come from SSE’s recent shenanigans, due to the relatively small amount of customers who may have acted on their intentionally inaccurate energy information.
Unfortunately, however, this is not the first time that SSE has been caught using misinformation to mislead their customers.
SSE Previously Hit with Record Fine
The latest fine to SSE comes five years after they were hit with a then record fine of £10.5 million by Ofgem for ‘prolonged and extensive’ mis-selling of gas and electricity. Ofgem also stated then that the mis-selling incidents were a result of management failures.
These previous incidents of energy mis-selling involved customers being contacted by SSE and being given misleading statements as well as inaccurate and misleading information regarding SSE’s charges. Their customers were also given misleading comparisons between SSE’s charges and those of their rival suppliers. In some cases, some customers were told they would be saving money whereas the reality was that they were being switched on to an even more expensive tariff.
Ofgem’s Senior Partner in Charge of Enforcement said in 2013: “Ofgem’s findings show SSE failed its customers, mis-sold 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.”
The then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, also heavily criticised SSE (formerly known as Scottish and Southern Energy) and pledged that future law changes would ensure that the fines from such activity would go directly back to the customers themselves.
Latest Fine To Go Into Customer Redress Fund
Echoing Mr Osborne’s pledge from five years ago, Ofgem revealed that SSE have agreed to pay the latest £1 million fine directly into a customer redress fund, which should go some way to compensating the 580,000 customers possibly affected by their misleading statements.
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