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SSE appeals against misleading sales conviction – and loses

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:

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.

Comments
Member

I’ve had them try and pebble their wares on my doorstep and over the phone several times in the last year. Just glad I told them were to go. And that’s with being registered with the TPS for several years and they had the cheek to tell me I need to re-register annually, which for an individual is a complete lie. Pity I don’t get anything for not falling for their lies. I just have to settle for the fact that its probably not the last time I’ll hear from them. The guy at the door even used the “we’ve taken over the supply for your area” line. CLOSE THE BxxxxxxS DOWN. Or publicly name and shame their CEO as the parasite is he.

Member
B Wilkinson says:
16 March 2012

It’s all very well thinking that fining SSE is a happy ending – but who do you think pays the bill? unless the fine is taken out of the company’s director salaries or similar, the fines are paid by the customers. SSE and all the other providers simply put the price up a little bit to cover the fine. Making energy companies pay fines is simply another tax on their customers. Just another little bit out of our pockets into the Government’s pockets. What a waste of time.

Member

Can I say that I am more than proud to be a part of my utility company and would recommend them even to my worst enemy because they blow everyone else out of the water. The reason I am posting this on here is that they DO NOT advertise and rely on recommendations and word of mouth. They are certainly very hot on proper contact as they are a UK BASED ONLY utility company but they also have under the one roof mobile, broadband and home phone, one direct debit, no hassle and they give discounts and bonuses where applicable. They even have a discount club and have saved my wife and I £137pm on all our bills, not to be sniffed at – that’s £137 we can do our shopping on, use on petrol, save if we can. We were with SSE and my goodness did they treat us like pigs once we signed on the dotted line. Our new supplier offers up to £200 to get you out of a contract you may be tied into as well. Now how can say fairer than that?

[The end of this comment has been edited to remove personal information – Mods]