One of the UK’s largest energy suppliers, SSE has recently been involved in scandal for issuing misleading statements to its customers. Now, the regulators have ordered the firm to pay out £1 million to these customers for the distress and inconvenience it’s caused them for a problem that’s been going on for over a year.
Ofgem, the energy regulator said that the computer area had affected an estimated 580,000. All the customers affected were on prepayment meters, and many of them are considered to be in vulnerable groups in society. SSE have now agreed to put the sum into a consumer redress fund and say they deeply regret the way that they have failed their customers.
The failings resulted in households being sent out annual statements that contained incorrect information on cheaper tariffs that were available to them. The statements also included estimated of savings on switching to these deals, which were later found to be incorrect and many consumers may have switched to this deals, leaving them out of pocket.
In addition to this, some of the statements that were sent out showed savings that could be made by switching from a prepayment meter to a standard meter. The company has confirmed that the figures were inflated, and have also apologised for this. Prepayment meters, which used either coins or cards, tend to be used by the most vulnerable households.
The regulator Ofgem noted that SSE failed to “act promptly to put things right, by not identifying the issue at an early stage and by not escalating action to address it or putting in place appropriate remedial actions”. They added that as a result of this, the failings were inflated further and may have caused further damage to their relationship with their customers.
Gareth Wood, SSE’s director of customer service operations, said that measures have now been put in place to avoid these issues reoccurring. “Although we’re disappointed not to have met the high standards expected of us in this instance, we’re pleased that the matter has now been closed with a voluntary payment that will directly benefit vulnerable customers,” he said.