SSE investigated over ‘cheapest tariff’ messaging
Ofgem confirmed it will investigate the annual statements sent to prepayment customers to examine whether SSE failed to provide accurate information about the cheapest tariffs available to customers and potential savings they could have made.
SSE is the UK’s second largest energy company with an estimated 2.4 million customers on its standard variable tariff (SVT).
As part of the energy regulations, suppliers must provide customers with tariff information on their annual statements, such as which tariff they’re on, a customer’s annual spend and how much they could save switching to the provider’s cheapest tariff.
Further, suppliers must take all reasonable steps to provide information that’s “complete, accurate and not misleading”.
However, Ofgem said by opening the investigation, it doesn’t imply it has made any findings of non-compliance.
Edward Molyneux, head of research at consumer collective, The Big Deal, said: “Those on prepayment meters are often the poorest and yet SSE is being investigated for failing ‘to provide accurate information’ when they could get a cheaper deal. If these allegations are true, SSE should be ashamed.”
An SSE spokesperson, said: “SSE will co-operate fully with Ofgem over the course of this investigation, which relates to an historic system issue that SSE identified, resolved and reported voluntarily to Ofgem.”
Separate SSE investigation concluded
Ofgem today also confirmed its closed an investigation into SSE’s practices around switching customers to prepayment meters following its launch in July last year. It was concerned whether customers were provided with appropriate information regarding a move to pay-as-you-go energy.
The issue affected 1,800 customers who had prepayment meters installed between 2014 and 2015. Ofgem found SSE didn’t take some customers through the appropriate processes before arranging with them to have a prepayment meter installed, including some who were in or at risk of falling into debt.
As a result, SSE will compensate 337 customers who paid more as a result of having a prepayment meter installed. Further, SSE said it has since improved its training and call monitoring processes to make sure its advisers treat customers who are struggling to pay their bills fairly.