Wednesday, 3 April 2013


Quids in!
The news that Energy supplier SSE has been fined £10.5 million pounds by the Ofgem (the energy regulator) for misselling gas and electricity should come as no real surprise. Neither should the fact that this is the largest ever imposed on an energy supplier by Ofgem. SSE, the energy company formerly known as Scottish and Southern Energy, was found guilty of "prolonged and extensive" misselling as a result of management failures. The misselling related to a combination of telephone, in-store and doorstep sales and was exposed by customers. They had been  contacted by SSE and were exposed to misleading statements, inaccurate and misleading information on SSE's charges, and misleading comparisons between SSE's charges and costs of other suppliers. Customers were told they could save money when in fact they were switched onto a more expensive contract.

Ofgem no doubt hopes that a "clear message" has been sent to energy suppliers who failed to treat customers fairly. This is the second of four misselling cases that were started by Ofgem in 2010. Back in March 2012, EDF Energy paid out £4.5 million pounds to vulnerable customers after they breached marketing rules. Scottish Power and Npower are also subject to ongoing investigations. Considering that we have what is in effect a fairly unregulated energy market, one that is dominated by a 6 member energy cartel, where profit is the only motive this should not surprise anyone. The energy company bosses rake in fat bonuses (Centrica, who own British Gas, split £16 million pounds between themselves recently).

Before the last Westminster General election, the  Conservatives talked about having an independent inquiry into the £25 billion-a-year energy industry which has been subject to lengthy and repeated criticisms surrounding accusations of profiteering on electricity and gas. This, was, however, quietly kicked in to the long grass by the Com Dem Coalition Government. So there we have it successive Westminster Governments (of the formerly New Labour and the Con Dem coalition variety) have done nothing to regulate the culture of excessive profits that predominates amidst the ‘Big 6’  and we should not expect anything to be done soon to help us hard pressed customers. 

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