Simon Read: I can’t repeat all that you say about Scottish Power - but it probably wouldn’t listen anyway

The provider is generating an abundance of complaints from readers...

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The Independent Online

Guess which companies were this week rated as having the worst call centres? TalkTalk, BT – an old friend of this column – and Scottish Power, which is currently generating lots of letters from you about a number of problems, including poor service. A new customer satisfaction survey from Which? said consumers were frustrated by long waiting times, poor staff knowledge and lengthy phone menus.

I’m sure I’ll hear more about the two telecoms companies from you in the future, but right now my postbag is dominated by concerns about the energy giant Scottish Power  – as it has been in recent weeks.

Complaints over soaring debit debits have moved on to other issues that suggest the energy giant has some big problems. Garry Collingwood moved into a new home in November and decided to switch energy supplier, from Scottish Power to British Gas.

“I have just this past week managed to get the transfer completed, fingers crossed, after more emails than you can count,” he said. I had to use the fingers of more than one hand to count how many months the transfer had dragged on for.

I offered to take up his case with the company but, coincidentally, by the time I contacted Garry to ask for the further details that the company had requested, it had sorted things out. Garry told me: “Scottish Power at long last has managed to complete the transfer. They have also told me that they are sending me a cheque for £50 as a goodwill gesture. But as an organisation they are, candidly  ...” Well, let’s just leave it there – shall we? – to protect the sensibilities of our more delicate readers.

Brendan Flanagan got in touch about a different problem – the incorrect transfer of his gas supply. “The initial mistake was not really Scottish Power’s fault at all,” he conceded, “but it’s response since the problem came to light has been inept, dilatory, at times arrogant and robotic.”

Strong stuff, but Brendan felt at the end of his tether. When I took his case to the company, it responded right away, which is to its credit. Its response? “We sincerely apologise to Mr Flanagan for the poor service he received from Scottish Power.” It said that once it has up-to-date meter readings, it will put through a correct bill. “Then we will discuss and agree a goodwill payment with Mr Flanagan in way of an apology.”

Brendan was happy with the outcome. “Thank you for your help,” he added. “It shouldn’t be necessary but it clearly is.”

I agree with that. Big companies do sometimes get things wrong, but I prefer to judge them by the measure of their response. By all possible measures, Scottish Power appears to have consistently failed its customers. That’s not acceptable and I intend to challenge senior management about its proposals to make drastic improvements. I’ll report back on that next week, as well as on more of your stories about your experiences with the energy giant. Keep them coming.

twitter: @simonnread

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