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Scottish Power in new Ofgem Probe

Scottish Power, one of the UK’s Big Six energy suppliers, is embroiled in another controversy as energy regulator Ofgem opens a compliance probe anew. The watchdog expressed concern over the provider, warning that the firm could pay millions of pounds if the criticisms on its services will keep coming.

 

Scottish Power, one of the UK’s Big Six energy suppliers, is embroiled in another controversy as energy regulator Ofgem opens a compliance probe anew. The watchdog expressed concern over the provider, warning that the firm could pay millions of pounds if the criticisms on its services will keep coming.

 

Customers further express disappointment that their complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

 

Ensuing chaos

 

The energy regulator has aired its concern regarding the growing number of complaints Scottish Power has been receiving recently, citing that the firm lags when it comes to resolving critical issues, resulting in customer dissatisfaction.

 

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Furthermore, Ofgem stated the firm fails to prevent similar complaints since there is an apparent lack in the identification, understanding, and resolution of the root cause of the problem. The industry watchdog commented that Scottish Power showed no progress in terms of shortening complaint resolution times.

 

Scottish Power serves over five million customers in the UK. Out of the Big Six suppliers, the firm has received the highest number of complaints in the past year. From September 2018 to September 2019, the supplier’s 8,441 cases were referred to the Energy Ombudsman, with customer service issues and inaccurate billing being the top complaints.

 

 

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Ofgem has continually tapped Scottish Power to establish improvement targets to pull up its customer satisfaction rating. The regulating body requires detailed reporting from the firm, which includes the reduction of complaints resolution times and preventing more referrals to the ombudsman and other consumer bodies.

 

If the energy supplier fails to show improvement, the watchdog stated it would likely deliver enforcement action.

 

Track record

 

Recent figures reported Scottish Power had seen a reduction of quarterly complaints. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the firm got 1,793 cases per 100,000 customers. EDF took the highest number of complaints in the same quarter at 2,341 cases.

 

However, the energy regulator is still moving forward with the investigation due to other complaints from the past years, earning the ire of customers. In the first quarter of 2019, the supplier received 3,581 complaints.

 

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Scottish Power had faced similar backlash in March 2015, when Ofgem enforced a 12-day sales ban due to the firm failing to meet targets on customer service. In April 2016, the supplier paid £18 million in fines after the conclusion of an Ofgem investigation for eighteen months. The regulator concluded that the company had severe grievances concerning billing, communications, and complaints handling.

 

The supplier chalked it up to a new computer system that was poorly implemented. However, many other complaints are not driven by this reason at all.

 

Dissecting complaints

 

Scottish Power has amassed disgruntled consumers in the recent failings. One pensioner stated that he spent several weeks trying to resolve the issue of his deceased mother’s cheques being sent to him but are made under her name. He escalated the problem to the Energy Ombudsman, but two more uncorrected cheques arrived after that.

 

Another case is a 41-year-old woman who received an unjustified bill hike of £1,126 from just £89.20, stating that she was lumped with four other accounts, of which three were mistakenly opened by the firm.

 

The insurance company employee said she would wait on the phone for an hour, and experienced taking time off just to accommodate callbacks that never happened. The supplier told her she owed almost £200, but could not tell which account accrued the debt.

 

Yet another complainant revealed she had been receiving letters for eight years demanding £7,000 for a debt she allegedly made to Scottish Power, even when her energy supplier has been British Gas since she lived in the same home for 40 years. Her complaint reached the Energy Ombudsman, which then ordered the supplier to stop contacting the lady.

 

 

These are just a few of the varied complaints Scottish Power has received, justifying Ofgem’s decision to start an investigation that aims to uncover the root cause of the firm’s problems to improve its satisfaction rating that will benefit its five million customers.

 

 


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