SSE found guilty of mis–selling
Energy firm Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has been found guilty of mis–selling its deals on consumers' doorsteps.
Surrey County Council Trading Standards accused SSE of incorrectly claiming customers were paying too much to their current provider and getting them to switch as a result.
"A doorstep seller had a print out, which he claimed showed consumers were paying too much with their current energy supplier, but the print out did not show this," explains Steve Playle, spokesperson for Surrey County council Trading Standards.
"The seller didn't actually have a clue but the sales script was cleverly designed to put potential customers on the back foot and to open the door to a sale," he adds.
SSE was found guilty on two counts of misleading sales practices between September 2008 and July 2009; however, it was found not guilty on another five similar counts. The case is believed to be the first of its kind and Audrey Gallacher, head of energy at Consumer Focus, hopes it will be a wakeup call to other energy companies.
"Energy firms have had years to sort out this issue and yet consumers are still misled and tricked on the doorstep."
"It sends a clear message that they must clean up their act on sales scripts and revise their pay and incentive system for salespeople to make sure customers can rely on an honest and fair service on the doorstep."
A sentence will be decided on 27 May and it is not known if SSE will appeal the decision. While elements of the case remain ongoing SSE is unable to comment other than it's issued statement. It says:
"We are clearly disappointed with the verdict and are now considering our legal options, which include the possibility of an appeal."
"We want to reassure customers, and potential customers, that this case relates to sales aids used in February 2009, which are not in use today, and we are confident that our sales processes continue to be fair and responsible."
Moneywise always recommends consumers don't respond to sales approaches from individual suppliers. If you want to switch to a cheaper deal use an online tool such as the Moneywise energy switcher to scour the market and find the right one for you.