Big Six energy supplier SSE is to cough up £1 million after issuing “inaccurate and misleading” annual statements to pre-payment meter customers.
An investigation by energy regulator Ofgem found that between June 2014 and September 2015, SSE sent out 1.15 million incorrect annual statements to 580,000 pre-paid customers.
An “IT coding error” meant the statements contained the following errors:
- Incorrect information on the cheapest alternative tariff available
- Inaccurate estimates of how much customers could save by switching
- Overestimates of the annual savings customers could make by changing their pre-payment meter to a standard credit meter paying by direct debit, as well as by moving to paperless billing.
The regulator says SSE also failed to act promptly to put things right. However, Ofgem says the energy supplier has since improved its processes, including carrying out extra checks on customer communications before issuing them and giving more resources to the teams involved.
As Ofgem believes the level of harm caused by the misleading statements is low, it hasn’t taken enforcement action against SSE. Instead, SSE has agreed to pay £1 million into Ofgem’s consumer redress fund administered by the Energy Saving Trust, which supports consumers in vulnerable situations and the development of innovative products or services that aren’t currently available.
Gareth Wood, director of customer service operations, comments: “We deeply regret the historic problems we identified with some annual statements for pre-payment customers, relating to a coding issue between 2014 and 2015. We proactively reported this to Ofgem once we became aware and, as Ofgem has recognised, we’ve put things right and now have stronger measures in place to help ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“Although we’re disappointed not to have met the high standards expected of us in this instance, we’re pleased that the matter has now been closed with a voluntary payment that will directly benefit vulnerable customers.”