Around 400,000 Scottish and Southern Energy customers may be entitled to redress after the energy giant lost an appeal over a conviction for mis-selling energy tariffs. But how can we stop this happening again?
I first wrote about misleading doorstep sales almost a year ago, when SSE were found guilty of mis-selling energy tariffs.
Their script, with stage directions such as ‘nod head and wipe your feet’, was quite funny until you realised it had been used to con people into accepting energy tariffs that could cost far more than their current deal.
SSE appealed the decision, despite cries from many organisations (including Which?) to just accept the charges and start cleaning up the mess. Now, finally, their appeal has been rejected and it will be sentenced on 4 May.
I love a happy ending, and it seems that although SSE has dragged this story out far longer than it should have done, its mis-sold customers could be reimbursed.
Surrey Trading Standards, which has been tirelessly pursuing SSE on this matter, says that the energy company should have no trouble in finding out who was mis-sold with this dodgy script.
Have you been mis-sold energy?
If you think you might have been one of these customers (there are around 400,000 of them) the best thing to do is get in touch with SSE and make a complaint. If you signed up via a doorstep salesman using this script, you may have been mis-sold your energy deal.
If this is the case then you should be given redress – SSE tweeted today that it will make good any financial loss that happened as a result of mis-selling after October 2009, and we’re asking them to extend this guarantee to everyone before this date as well:
Our sales guarantee covers all sales from Oct 09. Customers who have been misled will have any financial loss made good bit.ly/y63wrz
— SSE (@sse) March 16, 2012
But we don’t expect all SSE customers to stumble across this news, so we’re also calling on the company itself to take action. I think almost a year is long enough to stall this – now that the appeal has been rejected its absolute priority should be contacting those customers who have been mis-sold.
Ofgem needs to take control
While it’s good that these customers can see their happy ending, it’s not that happy for the rest of us. No company should be able to illegally manipulate us into buying products and services. In this situation SSE has been brought to court, but there are many other sneaky tactics out there that we need to keep an eye on.
I’m pretty vigilant, but we can’t all be expected to know everything. An energy salesperson’s job is to know what is and isn’t a good deal – consumers shouldn’t have to wander around with this info inside our heads.
I think we need the regulator – Ofgem – to make sure that not only do its rules prevent these tactics, but that it enforces those rules so that consumers don’t get ripped off. It shouldn’t take a year-long legal battle to establish that.