Ofgem has finally managed to get its act together. It has imposed the largest ever fine worth a staggering £10.5 million to energy supplier SSE.
Why? Because the company breached numerous rules when conducting domestic energy sales in the UK. Ofgem revealed the supplier failed at every stage – from the opening lines on the doorstep, in-store and over the phone through to the confirmation process following a sale – you name it, they probably messed up on it.
So yes, that one time you may have called the energy firm to switch suppliers or when their salesperson was at your doorstep trying to make a potential sale – they could have failed to give you clear and accurate information on prices and savings you would make if you wished to switch suppliers.
No organisation in the industry has escaped Ofgem’s wrath when failing to abide by its rules whilst dealing with consumers – E.ON, EDF Energy, SSE, npower and even National Grid! None has managed to get off Scot free – excuse the (perhaps obsolete) pun. Regardless of that, the regulator has in the past been criticised for being weak and not taking its stance but yesterday’s “record” fine has shown just how tough the regulator can get.
But are we supposed to forget about suppliers’ wrongdoings because they paid a hefty sum? And are fines really enough to let them go?
Last year, energy companies said that trust is paramount and vowed to do all they can to gain that back from consumers and make the market fairer and simpler for their customers.
Even though SSE has in place a £5 million “mis-selling fund” where customers who believe they have been mis-sold can call for compensation, it does question the ethics of energy companies – and as Ofgem put it, SSE has “undermined trust” in the energy supply industry.
And it seems like even though some in the sector could be putting the effort into gaining the trust and making things easier for people, news like this takes away from all the good that others or even the suppliers themselves may have tried to do – and won’t help them get off consumers’ bad books anytime soon!
However, maybe it goes to show that if suppliers do lose their trail from time to time, we can now rely on Ofgem to get it back on track. But how tough does the regulator really need to be to really help consumers get a fair ride?