According to Ofgem, here are some of the misleading statements made by SSE, which was today fined a record £10.5m for "numerous breaches of its obligations relating to telephone, in-store and doorstep sales activities":
- Getting customers to switch to a more expensive contract, whilst telling them they were moving to a cheaper one. From Ofgen via the Telegraph:
Mrs X had her energy supplied by one of SSE’s competitors. She was paying an annual bill of £1,600 for electricity and gas. In April 2010 she was visited by an SSE sales agent. The sales agent said Mrs X would only pay £1,423 with SSE. That was not true. In fact she was going to pay £1,734 per annum. As a result Mrs.X thought that she was going to save £177 but in fact she was put on a tariff that was £134 more expensive than her previous deal.
- Saying that other suppliers were making "false promises".
- Saying that other suppliers were putting their prices up.
- Offering to put customers of a "preferred customer tariff" but then charging them more for doing so.
- Suggesting SSE was following government guidelines which would make energy prices cheaper. Here's an extract from an SSE script:
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.
But according to Ofgem:
This is inaccurate and misleading as there is no automatic reduction in energy prices owing to “a government thing called deregulation” or by the customer “doing nothing at all”.
“The level of fine reflects the seriousness and duration of breaches, the likely substantial harm that they have caused and the likely gain to SSE,” Ofgem said in a statement.