Scottish Power has accepted a sales ban from energy watchdog Ofgem after failing to resolve customer complaints.
The company has been told to answer customer calls more quickly and reduce the number of late bills it sends.
News of the ban comes on the same day that Scottish Power withdrew its Online Fixed Price Energy March 2016 tariff, which was the cheapest deal on the market on 3 March.
If you think you might be missing out on the best energy deal, use Which? Switch to compare tariffs, based on your energy usage. You can use the Which? customer score for each provider to help you decide on service as well as price.
Scottish Power fails customers
The move sees Scottish Power banned from making proactive sales for 12 days from 4 March. It can still sell products to customers who approach the company directly.
Which? had recently revealed Scottish Power’s failings after it came second from bottom in a satisfaction survey of more than 9,400 energy customers, carried out in September and October 2014. The company received just two stars for customer service and complaints, and earned a poor overall customer score of 41%. See which providers came out on top in our review of best and worst energy companies.
A Which? undercover investigation in October 2014 found that it took an average of 30 minutes for customers calling Scottish Power to get through to a human being – the longest wait of the 16 energy suppliers we called.
The energy firm was warned by Ofgem that it had to reduce its call waiting time to two minutes by the end of January.
Energy market needs fixing
Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: ‘It’s right that Ofgem is hitting suppliers where it hurts. Scottish Power should be properly punished for failing to meet its customer service targets.
‘It’s little wonder that consumer trust in this market is so low. We need to see the CMA propose radical reforms to Fix the Big Six. In the meantime, the biggest suppliers should urgently improve how they treat their customers and not wait for the outcome of the competition inquiry.
‘Customer loyalty doesn’t always pay in the energy market. If people are fed up with their supplier they should shop around for a better deal.’
Energy complaints resolution
Scottish Power customers who have not had complaints resolved have had all past bills written off and are not being charged for their power until the problems are fixed.
If you have an outstanding ombudsman complaint but aren’t getting free power, you should follow this up with Scottish Power and – should your complaint remain unresolved – with the Energy Ombudsman.
Scottish Power says it has invested £200 million in a new customer management system, and claims that moving to the new system has resulted in serious problems for some customers.