On 27 May Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) PLC announced it will appeal the verdicts of a Surrey Trading Standards court case after being convicted of using misleading sales scripts for doorstep energy sales.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said:
‘SSE may continue to deny it is guilty of doorstep mis-selling, but we have evidence that suggests questionable sales tactics may be more widespread.’
Manipulated Which? customer satisfaction survey
Which? discovered that SSE had manipulated a Which? customer satisfaction survey so that SSE appeared at the top of the table, and was using this to sell its services through M&S Energy.
SSE claimed that Which? members rated M&S Energy the best, when SSE actually ranked fourth. Which? has not tested M&S Energy.
It was only in the small print that it was stated that its table referred to the Which? survey results for the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers. SSE claims that this was a ‘clear qualifier’, but Which? believes that it was misleading due to its small size compared with the other published information.
Breach of Consumer Protection Regulations?
The offences contravened the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices Regulations 2008. Richard Lloyd said:
‘We believe that not only was this misleading but also a breach of Consumer Protection Regulations. We are urging SSE to compensate any M&S Energy customers that feel they were misled.’
Energy Secure Code
The Energy Retail Association (ERA) is reviewing the Code of Practice for Face-to-Face Marketing of Energy Supply (the Energy Sure Code) to ensure that it is up to date, effective and provides the best possible protection for customers when they are buying energy on the doorstep.
The Energy Sure Code states that people who are recruited as a result of a forgery should be compensated with £250. While this is not classed as a forgery, Which? believes the table was misleading material and SSE should similarly compensate, voluntarily.
Which? wants the Energy Secure Code to include standards for written marketing materials as well as doorstep selling practices, which should result in better protection for consumers.
In April 2011, SSE agreed to stop using the material, destroy all copies and stop promoting M&S Energy with Which? reports.
Do you think SSE should compensate customers? Join the SSE debate on Which? Conversation.
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