Britain’s energy regulator has fined non-domestic energy supplier United Gas & Power (UGP) £2.1 million for “deliberately overcharging” some of its customers.
The penalty follows an investigation opened by Ofgem in July 2020 – UGP billed some customers on inflated consumption estimates, generating extra revenue for itself, which was not promptly returned to customers, the regulator said.
Despite making goodwill gesture payments and apologising, UGP’s actions were deemed unacceptable by Ofgem.
Cathryn Scott, Director of Enforcement and Emerging Issues at Ofgem, said: “No matter what financial difficulties companies may find themselves in, it is plainly unjustifiable and wholly unacceptable to deliberately overcharge customers to boost revenue.
“In addition to this overcharging, it is concerning that UGP failed to return credit owing to former customers and retained such large sums in their own account; only refunding customers following Ofgem’s intervention.
“These are very difficult times for businesses and energy consumers. This significant penalty should send a strong signal to all suppliers in the market to act with the utmost care and integrity when it comes to customers’ money.”
In a statement, UGP said: “We accept responsibility for the breaches identified and apologize to our customers for any inconvenience or concern caused.
“During the period between 2016 and 2022, the investigation found that we breached rules around billing, meter reading and communications, resulting in a financial penalty. We have taken this matter very seriously and have been working closely with Ofgem to address the issues raised.
“We have implemented several measures to improve our services, which include replacing our aging CRM/billing system with a new and improved system, updating our compliance culture and training, and reviewing and updating our Treating Customers Fairly statement, renewal letters, principal terms, and terms and conditions to provide greater clarity and transparency to our customers.
“We have placed our compliance culture at the forefront of our business, and we are confident that this will enable us to maintain strong relationships with our customers. It is important to us to reassure our customers that we remain committed to providing the highest standards of service and customer care.”