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Scottish Power sales ban

Scottish PowerScottish Power have today been hit with a short term sales ban from the energy regulator, Ofgem.

Scottish Power had agreed, as part of their improvement processes, to agree to a suspension of sales if Ofgem deemed that the set milestones for improvement were not reached. Whilst Scottish Power fulfilled all the objectives placed upon them Ofgem believed that 30 of 2,500 ombudsman complaints may have been concluded incorrectly and as such held that Scottish Power had missed its defined targets.

As a result Scottish Power have agreed with Ofgem to suspend all sales activity between 4th March and 15th March 2015 inclusive.

This includes sales to all new business and renewal customers in the domestic, SME and I&C energy markets.

What does this mean for business energy customers?

For existing Scottish Power business customers who are in their contracting window

For a short period of time until 15th March 2015, they will not be able to receive pricing from or contract with Scottish Power. This includes all third party intermediaries (TPI), brokers and comparison websites. This does not affect a customer’s ability to change supplier from Scottish Power, nor does it preclude the agreement of a contract with their TPI.

For customers looking to potentially switch to Scottish Power

No pricing will be made available until after the 15th March.

For existing Scottish Power business customers who are not in their contracting window

There will be no impact.

Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s senior partner in charge of enforcement said:

“A sales ban illustrates the difficulties ScottishPower is having in delivering the levels of service customers deserve. While Ofgem’s targets have driven significant improvements in ScottishPower’s performance, we remain very concerned about how customers are being treated.”

Neil Clitheroe, CEO of ScottishPower Retail & Generation said:

“ScottishPower is committed to delivering the best service possible and treating our customers fairly. We have a long track record of delivering high standards of service to our customers. To further improve our customer service, we invested £200 million on a new customer management system. All of our customer accounts have now been transferred on to the new system and we are starting to see some of the benefits of that system being delivered, such as extending our call centre opening hours to the longest in the industry and an “industry-first” online direct debit management service.

“The process of moving to our new system has been challenging and has resulted in service problems for some of our customers. We are determined to put this right. We continue to correct problems, pay appropriate compensation and ensure no customer is left financially disadvantaged.

“In November, following discussions with OFGEM, we voluntarily set ourselves challenging improvement targets for the coming months.

“We have successfully delivered two of the targets. Overdue bills are now less than 30,000 and we are answering phone calls faster, achieving an average of less than 2 minutes by the end of January.

“In relation to the target of having zero ombudsman remedies over 28 days, we cleared 2575 cases during November and, at 1st December, the Ombudsman confirmed that we have achieved the zero target.

“However, subsequently it was identified that 30 cases had been closed incorrectly. We sincerely apologise to these customers for these errors. The cases were immediately fixed on discovery. In line with our original voluntary commitment and with the agreement of Ofgem, we will now stop outbound selling from 4th March until 15th March. Over 500 sales advisers who are normally engaged in telesales activities will spend this period supporting our customer service teams across the UK.

“A number of customers have received interim ombudsman remedies from ScottishPower. In these instances, all past debt is written-off and all ongoing energy usage is not charged. ScottishPower will continue to honour this commitment until the underlying root cause on the account is fixed.

“The voluntary commitments are now complete but we will continue to report our service performance on our website on an ongoing basis. We will also continue to work constructively with Ofgem to support the ongoing investigation.

“We are all fully committed to delivering continued service improvements, return to the high service standards long associated with ScottishPower and ensure that our customers realise the very real benefits of our IT system investment.”