By DARA BUTTERFIELD
Scottish Power has been told to markedly improve its services to customers – or it will face the prospect of the regulator putting a ban in place on its sales.
The UK regulator OFGEM has specified improvements for three key areas: call waiting times, late bills and Ombudsman complaints. As a result, Scottish Power must:
- Significantly improve the speed of answering customer calls by the end of January 2015; It will publish weekly progress reports from the end of November, detailing the call waiting times.
- Reduce the number of overdue bills. Today more than 75,000 are late; this must drop to 30,000 by the end of December, and:
- Completely remove the backlog for acting on Ombudsman decisions for individual complaints by the end this month.
Each month Scottish Power will have to publish its progress towards these commitments on its website. If it misses any of its targets its proactive sales activities will instantly be suspended.
Sarah Harrison, senior partner of enforcement, Ofgem, explained: “Scottish Power’s customers are experiencing unacceptably long call waiting times and a drastic drop in overall customer satisfaction.
“Our action will drive immediate improvements for Scottish Power customers. In a properly functioning market we would expect companies to compete keenly on service.
“The need for our intervention here is yet more evidence that the energy market is not working for consumers. This further justifies our decision to refer the market to the Competition and Markets Authority.
“This investigation is the third time we have used our new standards of conduct to make suppliers treat consumers fairly. This is a clear signal to suppliers to up their game and give consumers the service they are entitled to.”
Neil Clitheroe, Chief Executive, Scottish Power, said: “We apologise unreservedly to any customer who has not received the level of service that they deserve from Scottish Power in recent months.
“I provide my personal assurance that we will do what we can to correct every problem, pay appropriate compensation and ensure that no customer is disadvantaged.”