Scottish Power faces sales ban unless customer experience is improved

One of the UK's "big six" energy suppliers, Scottish Power, is facing a potential ban on selling if it doesn't improve certain customer services, including cutting helpline waiting times, the energy regulator said today.

Market watchdog Ofgem has launched an investigation into some of Scottish Power's customer services and plans to give the company monthly deadlines to improve them or it will halt the firm's sales activities.

The UK energy market has become increasingly competitive, with customers ever more informated about their ability to switch supplier. Smaller providers are eating away at the big six's market share and one of the key points of differentiation is customer experience.

Scottish Power has until the end of November 2014 to deal with a backlog of customer complaints identified by the UK energy Ombudsman. More than this, Ofgem requires the utility company to cut its overdue customer bills to 30,000 from 75,000 by the end of December 2014.

"The need for our intervention here is yet more evidence that the energy market is not working for consumers," said Sarah Harrison, senior partner in charge of enforcement at Ofgem.

This latest bout of scrutiny was kicked off under Ofgem's new standards of conduct regulation that were established in 2013.

In what could result in a seismic shift for both energy companies and customers, the entire energy retail market is currently under investigation by Britain's competition watchdog in a probe that could lead to the break-up of the biggest energy suppliers.

Suppliers are under pressure to demonstrate that their size and dominance of the market does not prevent them from meeting the needs of customers. Proactive efforts are required to deliver for both shareholders and the customers who depend on great service but have been let down by poor customer experience.

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Written by Martin Calvert on 14 November 2014 at 15:26
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