Fair Energy

Energy giant loses appeal over doorstep mis-selling is thrown out

 

Consumer groups called for a total ban on doorstep selling by the power giants yesterday after one of the biggest suppliers, Scottish & Southern Energy, was humbled in the Court of Appeal over misleading sales practices.

Three appeal court judges threw out SSE's appeal against its conviction at Guildford Crown Court last year for tricking householders in 2008 and 2009 in what trading standards officers described as a "David and Goliath" victory. SSE, Britain's second biggest energy supplier, is due to be sentenced on 4 May.

Trading standards officers from Surrey County Council had caught SSE using an "illegal script" to persuade householders to switch their supply from rival operators. A doorstep seller claimed he had a print out which showed consumers were paying too much with their current tariff, but the information was missing from the print out and householders were given the impression they were overpaying when that was not necessarily so.

Surrey County Council said: "The seller didn't actually have a clue but the sales script was cleverly designed to put potential customers on the back foot and to open the door to a sale."

After a five-day trial at Guildford Crown Court, SSE was found guilty last May of two counts of taking part in misleading selling practices between September 2008 and July 2009. At the time of its conviction it said it wanted to reassure customers, and potential customers, that it no longer used the script.

In July, SSE suspended all doorstep selling. All of the "Big Six" suppliers, bar E.On, have now voluntarily stopped selling door-to-door, a practice long beset by accusations of mis-selling.

Stephen Forbes, SSE's director of sales, marketing and energy services, said the company was "very disappointed" with the outcome of its appeal. "We will now consider our next steps, but it is highly likely we will not seek to take this issue any further," he said.

"This case was initially brought over two years ago and since then we have ceased all doorstep sales activity in Britain, becoming the first energy supplier to stop commission-based doorstep selling of electricity and gas. High standards in energy sales are absolutely essential and the recent steps we have taken demonstrate SSE's commitment to them."

Despite the case, SSE has the best customer service record among the Big Six, rated five stars by the Government watchdog Consumer Focus. It has nine million domestic gas and electricity accounts.

A Surrey County Council trading standards officer, Steve Playle, described the case as "David and Goliath" – with SSE having a "turnover something like £28bn" and Surrey Trading Standards having a budget of "just £2m".

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

£200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

Test Manager - Banking - Yorkshire - £450 per day

£400 - £500 per day: Orgtel: Test Manager - Banking - West Yorkshire - £400-£5...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone