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Scottish Power sales calls banned for 12 days

Arrow and phone

Scottish Power has been served with a 12-day sales ban by Ofgem after failing to meet the regulator’s customer service targets. It’s good to see Ofgem hitting suppliers where it hurts.

Back in November Scottish Power was told by Ofgem to answer all customer queries promptly, reduce its backlog of overdue bills and resolve all outstanding ombudsman decisions on complaints.

Since then the energy supplier has improved call waiting times and reduced its bills backlog, but there are still too many outstanding ombudsman rulings. This has led to Ofgem telling Scottish Power to stop all outbound sales calls for 12 days, staring from today. On top of that, any customers with outstanding complaints will continue to receive free energy until issues are resolved.

Last year Scottish Power sat at the bottom of our energy company call-waiting survey, taking customers an average of 30 minutes to speak to a human being on its customer service line. Yet, someone calling its sales line could get through in less than a minute.

Scottish Power punished

It’s right that Scottish Power is being properly punished for failing to meet its customer service targets. And given poor customer service like this, it isn’t surprising that trust in the energy market is so low.

We want the Competition and Markets Authority to propose radical reforms to Fix the Big Six. In the meantime, suppliers like Scottish Power should urgently improve how they treat their customers and not wait for the outcome of the CMA’s competition inquiry.

Are you a Scottish Power customer? What’s been your experience of their customer service? Have you had poor customer service from one of the Big Six suppliers? Are you tempted to switch?


I had a poor start with Scottish Power when I switched from e.on over a year ago. It took quite a long time to resolve. I have no idea if e.on was partly to blame for the difficulties. The people I spoke to at Scottish Power were courteous and I was very grateful to receive a call back rather than having to wait in a phone queue on one occasion.

I have been impressed by the fact that Scottish Power did not keep pushing up my direct debit unnecessarily, which e.on had done for years. Unfortunately, they have now pushed it up by 40% despite me being over £100 in credit, so it’s time for the first phone call for more than a year.

I cannot remember ever having a sales call from Scottish Power, though there was a pushy sales chap at the door about 18 months ago. This was not why I moved to Scottish Power, the reason being a collective switching deal offered by my local council.

If I do get sales calls from Scottish Power they will be warned that they could lose a customer. Vodafone have had their final warning, and thankfully they have heeded it.

I want to see a complete ban on sales calls, rather than the present ineffective opt-out system via TPS. If anyone wants to opt-in, they are welcome.

I forgot to mention that Scottish Power did not send me an email to say that they were putting up my direct debit by 40%, though they do routinely contact me by email when they would like me to read my meters. I found out about the increase when I logged into my account in late January or early February. I don’t really think this is good practice.

When I read about this sanction against Scottish Power the story went on to say that the company would be redeploying its sales force of 500 people over the next two weeks to assist the customer services staff to get up to date. I was absolutely amazed that the company had to employ so many sales reps – presumably to sign up new customers gained from switching and to replace those lost to other suppliers. One wonders whether all this churning is adding value anywhere along the line.

Ian says:
4 March 2015

If people have to switch, it means their current supplier is ripping them off and competition isn’t working.

The whole system is based on the premise of switching to save money, then prices creep up and you have to switch again.

Meanwhile, prices have gone through the roof and price comparison sites stand accused of not offering the best deals on the market, only those they make commission from, and pushing prices up across the board simply because they receive commission each time someone switches.

I have this afternoon received a telephone sales call from Scottish Power. What happened to the 12 day sales ban by Ofgem starting March 4th?

You might have earned Scottish Power a small fine, Beryl. I suggest you pass on the details to Which?

Hi Beryl, when you have a moment could you please email the details of the call? Thanks

Hi, just to clarify after talking with Beryl. Beryl is an existing customer coming to the end of her Scottish Power deal. The ban only applies to potential new customer sales calls.

Thanks Patrick for clarifying. Although SP’s renewal offer was very tempting, I have decided it is ultimately worth paying a little extra for better and more effective service.

Sceptic says:
7 March 2015

I moved gas and electricity from Scottish Power to EDF in October 2014. EDF were moderately competent but Scottish Power have been hopeless. By end November they had sorted out the refund due on the gas a/c and closed that a/c but opened a new one for electricity and the a/c details showed they owed me about £12.
Since then, there has been a series of emails from me requesting my refund and in each case I have received a semi-coherent reply but absolutely no action by Scottish Power and certainly no refund has been received.
It is difficult to believe that staff who are bright enough to find their way to work can be so inept so I presume it is Scottish Power policy to delay making refunds for as long as possible.
A month or so ago some senior bod From Scottish Power said they had now sorted out the problems that had resulted from the installation of their new IT system. Clearly he is deluded.
I suggest the Regulator fines Scottish Power £10 for every £1 that they have failed to refund to their ex-customers who have switched to another supplier, where it can be shown that the delay is entirely Scottish Power’s fault. If such a fine were levied for each week that the refund remained overdue then even the most incompetent Director would eventually get the message.
At present I believe the Regulator is largely ineffective and as a consequence is mainly ignored by the power companies.
Clearly Scottish Power Directors have no sense of shame.

Mark says:
7 March 2015

I got OFGEM involved as switched to a new supplier 7 months ago and still can’t get my final bill. They have until 10 Mar to comply with OFGEM direction. I am not holding my breath on that’

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I’ve had experience of both Scottish Power sales and Scottish Power supply. You couldn’t print what I want to call them but sufficient to say they’re not very good. I think a twelve day sales call ban is a joke. I’d prefer they stopped sales calls altogether. In fact I prefer all cold sales calls stopped, but that’s probably wishful thinking. However at the very least this Scottish power ban should be a meaningful period to punish them for their total incompetence. I’d suggest a ban until they get their act together and pass some basic customer service competence tests, and that won’t be achieved in 12 days.

I was with Scottish power from around 2012 to April 2014. In the early days, they seemed good. As time went on, customer service and general efficiency went downhill. Not only the human element (telephone waiting times etc), but also their computer systems started playing up (I was on an online tariff and relied heavily on their website for meter reading and billing). Their bills started being late or simply not being issued at all; and the direct debits went up more than they should have. In April 2014, I moved address, gave them my final readings, and promised myself never to use them again.

I am still waiting for a final bill. I know they have received my final readings because one of their sales reps rang me a few days later and said, in an arrogant-sounding voice, “Right, let’s get you signed up at your new address.” I said, first things first, I must have a final bill. He said this will arrive in six weeks. I told him about my complaints, and he apologised, said they putting in a new computer system, and begged to be given a second chance. I foolishly agreed, and gave him my new address. I heard nothing for a couple of weeks, and then I looked on my online account to find that they got the wrong address! That would mean some poor random homeowner would have got his energy supplier switched without his knowledge or permission. I then rang them, and, after waiting for a long time, I got to speak to them. I gave them my details, including my account number, but they said they had no record of my ever being a customer! I immediately cancelled my direct debit instruction. I was in credit by a small amount, so had nothing to worry about. I have not heard anything from them since. I couldn’t be bothered to complain to the ombudsman as the amount they owed me was small; I’m just glad I finally got rid of them.

Chris S says:
15 March 2015

I left Scottish Power in October they say I have a balance credit if £550+ I have requested this be returned since November I have called evrey couple of weeks since October. Each time I speak to someone they say that the person before didnt close the account down properly but they have now done it and I will have my money back in the next 10 days. I get this story over and over I have asked to make a ormal complaint on several occasions and have been told I will get a call back, this never came. I called again on Friday to be told yet again that the account hadnt been closed but it is now and that it has been passed to a manager to process yet again. I am not holding my breath… I have screen shots of the balance on the account and this page has changed on several occasions. I dont think they know what they are doing. I think the head of customer service should be looking for a new job Customer service does not exist at Scottis Power.

Chris, I’m surprised you’ve allowed them to string you along for this long while holding on to your money and earning interest on your money. You’ve already given them plenty of opportunity to return what they owe you. Now’s the time to take your complaint to the ombudsman, or write them a final notice before taking court action.

Scottish Power and NPower at the moment are advertising very attractive price deals, which is not surprising given their appalling service record and ensuing bad press. Caroline Flint, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in a recent BBC interview made the point that although energy prices have fallen by as much as 20%, suppliers have failed to pass on this reduction to consumers, lowering them only by between 4 – 5%.

Consumers cannot be blamed for switching to these lower prices now being offered by The Big Six but unfortunately, opting for one of these cheaper deals is enabling the Big Six to continue with their collusion and control, not only of energy prices but also through their sheer size and power, allowing them to hold on to consumers credit balances both before and after switching, which is tantamount to theft.

I live in hope that the Competition and Markets Authority will soon take the necessary action needed to intervene by breaking them up into smaller companies and reintroducing competition and fairness back into the energy market.

June says:
17 March 2015

This company is a joke, been trying to sort a bill out for a property we rented last July and August they are trying to charge us between £200 and £300 hundred pounds for gas we did not use. Last friday we received three bills in two envelopes ranging from the above amounts [this is the second time this has happened] we have rang continually been on phone for hours staff have no idea what to do, even transposing meter readings whilst on the phone. This is now with ombudsman. This company want closing down, why should people have to put up with a company that is run by a load of monkeys.

Mdlcth says:
19 March 2015

I closed my account with Scottish Power in late December providing meter readings via new supplier. Four months on my accounts are still not completely closed and I have experienced a catalogue of problems getting agreement on my final bills and outstanding monies returned. Even yesterday I had to explain to the fifth customer service person this week that I should not be charged exit fees which had been debited against my account with no reference as to what they were. It took some time before this was clarified. As the rep couldn’t locate the information about my original now expired tariff I had to explain how to access it on their own site! She was then able to confirm I, the customer, was correct and exit fees did not apply. These will apparently be refunded.

Overall this last week I have lost 8 hours of my life stuck in the phone queue as well as on the phone talking to staff who never seem to have accurate records of my earlier conversations, do not seem to understand their own system of charging and cannot adequately explain the billing process in a clear fashion. I have now accepted an agreed figure for refund but am not convinced it is accurate but so worn down by the process I can’t face any further contact with them. Their service in this respect has been a life-draining experience.

alex says:
29 May 2015

Well we’ve just found out about this ban. . We signed up on the 4th March and haven’t heard back from Scottish power. How is it we have had to go on Google to find this out? We are new tenants so who do we pay our bill to? Or do we have a supplier?

You will probably be with the company that supplied the previous tenants but you will have been transferred to the ‘standard’ tariff which might not be the most suitable. Have you phoned Scottish Power to ask? Have your meter number[s] handy. If they can’t help you try any of the major energy comparison websites like moneysupermarket or uswitch or UKpower and they can check with the central database.

Jo o reilly says:
31 May 2015

I was with scottish power for a year – in July my dad was stopped-I called them every month to reset it – they never did – finally I switched as could not understand why I had to chase to pay them money
They called me when the switch became apparent wanting to know why I was leaving ????!!!!
Then threatened debt collections etc after 8 months of me calling them to pay them
I have asked for an explanation Nd apology – nothing

I.ow.them.a fortune