Scottish and Southern Energy fined £10.5m for mis-selling
The watchdog said that SSE are guilty of "failures at every stage of the sales process," adding that they've pestered people through phone sales, terrible instore sales and doorstepping.
Ofgem signed off with a flourish, accusing SSE of lying to customers, saying SSE provided "misleading and unsubstantiated statements" to consumers, levelling particular criticism to senior management.
They ignored compliance and sent out sales staff, who told customers that they'd save money even though they were being put on a more expensive contract and that they would be able to offer bigger savings than were possible. Sales teams were also accusing other suppliers of making "all sorts of false promises" and making up price increases from other energy firms. Staff were also not telling potential customers about exit fees, unit rates and standing charges.
An example from one doorstep script used said: "What I'm here to do today is show you a government thing called deregulation which results in your energy prices being lowered by doing nothing at all." Ofgem rightly pointed out that there's no automatic reduction owing to "a government thing called deregulation."
Ian Marlee, managing director for markets at Ofgem, said: "This is a woeful catalogue of failures by the SSE management. This fine represents the fact that what they were doing was allowing a culture of mis-selling to continue, they weren't doing enough to prevent sharp selling practices from their selling agents, they actually provided misleading sales scripts."
"Some people were being told they were going to get savings when actually they were being put on a worse deal. People were expecting savings and were not getting the levels of savings, people were being told direct debit levels that made it sound like they were going to be better off when in fact they were worse off."
"What we need and what we expect from energy companies is they have a culture of putting consumers first and complying with the rules. Clearly SSE management were not doing that which is why we imposed the largest fine on energy suppliers we have ever imposed."