Energy giant pledges £5m for mis-sold customers
'Big Six' energy giant SSE has set aside £5m for customers who were mis-sold energy deals.
The company also announced last night (December 15) it would start a 'sales guarantee' for household energy customers from next month to protect future customers from the same problem.
The guarantee is one of 10 proposals to build trust in energy supply published by SSE in October 2011.
Its proposals come after it was found guilty, in May this year, of using a misleading sales script for doorstep energy sales in a court case brought by Surrey Trading Standards.
However, the firm did win the right to appeal this in late May and a final verdict is expected in February next year.
While SSE says it is 'not possible' to predict precisely how many customers may have suffered a financial loss as a result of switching energy supplier, it believes around £5m should be sufficient to meet any claims under the guarantee arising from energy sales between October 2009 and the end of 2011.
SSE generation and supply director, Alistair Phillips-Davies, said: "We agree with Ofgem about the need to restore customers' trust in the energy supply market and to treat customers fairly.
"That's why we have decided to introduce this sales guarantee and to implement it retrospectively.
"We have been saying for some time that energy is a significant purchase and the sales process rightly requires increasingly significant customer safeguards.
his guarantee, and the retrospective application of it, is a practical demonstration of putting words into action."
Consumer Focus director of energy, Audrey Gallacher, said: "Ultimately what people want to see is energy firms doing the right thing first time, but when things do go wrong they need to see suppliers taking action to put things right.
"It only fair that the firm holds its hands-up on any bad selling practices that have happened, and refund customers that have lost out as a result.
"This step should help people to claim back any money they lost without having to go through the Energy Ombudsman, which they would have to do otherwise."
Labour's shadow energy and climate change secretary, Caroline Flint MP, said: "For too long energy companies have been able to do what they want at the expense of everybody else.
"SSE's sales guarantee is a welcome first step, but all the energy companies should have teams looking back at customers' energy use to direct them to lower tariffs and offering refunds where they were misled about their energy package.
"Only then would they start to regain consumers' trust."