SSE to pay large fine for misleading energy customers

Posted in Utilities on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 at 10:59 by Martyn Shaw.

It is difficult enough in these trying economic times for consumers to exercise prudence in their spending and debt management practices.  It can become impossible when the companies they must deal with are not behaving in a manner that is completely above board.  Such appears to be the case with the energy firm SSE, which has recently been given a fine in excess of £1.2 million for misleading customers.

Salespeople working for the company would visit a homeowner and claim that the household could save a significant amount of money by switching from their current energy provider to SSE instead.  While this may seem on the surface to be an innocuous sales tactic, in fact, the sales force did not know what consumers were currently paying since they had no access to the contract governing those transactions.  In effect, it would be like a financial company claiming to do a credit card comparison without knowing for certain the rates and terms that applied to a particular individual.

Steve Playle, who serves as an investigator for Trading Standards, characterised the fine in broad terms, claiming that “This was a real David versus Goliath battle which resulted in a victory for consumers everywhere.”  Mr Playle added that the large fine “should send a message to the energy industry that deceptive, misleading and illegal sales tactics are not acceptable.”

According to Mr Playle, additional energy suppliers are currently under investigation regarding their sales practices.  These include Scottish Power, E.On and npower.  SSE has indicated that it will pay the fine without disputing the particulars of the case.

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