Glasgow-based generator and energy retailer Scottish Power is now serving a 12 day ban from engaging in ‘proactive sales’ as Ofgem and Ombudsman Services uncover evidence that the supplier missed their November customer service target.
In December, Ofgem was told by ScottishPower that all outstanding Ombudsman decisions on customer complaints were cleared and this was originally confirmed by the Ombudsman. But in January Ofgem and Ombudsman Services uncovered new evidence that showed the company had not fully met its November target – ScottishPower fell short by 30.
Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s senior partner in charge of enforcement, said: “A sales ban illustrates the difficulties Scottish Power is having in delivering the levels of service customers deserve. While Ofgem’s targets have driven significant improvements in Scottish Power’s performance, we remain very concerned about how customers are being treated.
“As well as our ongoing investigation, we require Scottish Power to undertake an independent audit of its progress on improving customer service. We will keep the need for any further action under review.”
In November, Ofgem launched an investigation into ScottishPower’s treatment of customers. Customers were experiencing long call waiting times, receiving late bills and the firm was not implementing Ombudsman decisions. ScottishPower signed up to three Ofgem targets to improve customer service within three months or suspend proactive sales activities until the targets were met. The targets were:
- To improve the speed of answering customer calls by the end of January.
- To reduce the number of bills sent out late.
- To completely remove the backlog for acting on Ombudsman decisions for individual complaints by the end of November.
Scottish Power met the first two targets with average call waiting times falling to less than 2 minutes since November, and late bills falling from 75,000 to less than 25,000.
Where Scottish Power’s IT systems only allow a partial implementation of the Ombudsman’s proposed remedies, the firm has been providing affected customers with free energy and has been writing off past debt.
ScottishPower has assured the regulator that these Ombudsman requirements will remain in force for any case where the company can only partially implement the Ombudsman’s decisions. More than 2,000 customers are currently receiving free energy.
Customers with outstanding Ombudsman complaints are to continue to receive free energy until issues are resolved.