Energy bills ‘it’s not lying it’s misrepresentation’ – SSE
Scottish and Southern Energy has defended itself on charges of lying to customers for the second time in as many days.
Members of the Energy and Climate Change Committee confronted the tops six energy firms today (May 11) over doorstep selling following SEE’s trial on charges of misleading customers.
Yesterday (May 10) the firm, the UK’s second largest generation business, was found guilty at Guildford Crown Court in Surrey.
The business, commonly referred to as SSE, was found guilty of two counts out of seven charges brought by Surrey’s trading standards.
The two charges relate to the wording used by SSE in its scripts given to sales people who make doorstop visits to attempt to convince consumers to change to them.
MP Tim Yeo, chair of the committee, asked SSE’s energy supply director, Alistair Phillips-Davies: “Why use agents who lie?”
Mr Phillips-Davies explained the business was disappointed by the ruling and was considering an appeal.
He said: “There’s no suggestions agents had lied, the jury thought there had been a misrepresentation in the script.”
However, he went on to explain that SSE operated a commission structure of between 40 to 50% of wages, and in some cases more, to doorstep sales staff.
The committee claimed this meant sales staff were therefore ‘incentivised’ to lie, with Mr Yeo suggesting the Government should launch a formal investigation.
Mr Phillips-Davies responded: “We do not set out to lie to people if you want to launch an investigation that’s up to you.
“We have a script, most of the other energy firms don’t have that, so you can see what we’ve said to people.”
EDF Energy’s managing director, Martin Lawrence, added it used to have a doorstep sales force of 1200 but that it was now less than 300.
E.ON UK’s director of regulation and energy policy, Sara Vaughan, said it had ‘massively’ reduced it door step sales force as well.
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