Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE) has been fined £1.25 million for conning customers into switching from other energy suppliers to SSE deals.
The company’s sales agents used misleading sales scripts when talking to potential new customers on their doorsteps as they went round from house to house between September 2008 and July 2009.
The y told customers that they were paying too much for their energy when in fact they were not.
The company was originally found guilty in May 2011 but made an appeal against the fine which has now been rejected. It is thought that this is the first time that one of the big six energy firms has been prosecuted for using dishonest sales tactics.
SSE has now accepted the fine and apologised for its actions. The case against it was brought by Surrey Trading Standards. The fine, which will be paid to the Treasury is one of the largest ever resulting from a case brought by Trading Standards.
Steve Playle, investigations and enforcement manager for Surrey Trading Standards said: "It should send a message to the energy industry that deceptive, misleading and illegal sales tactics are not acceptable.
“Hopefully this fine will serve as a reminder that no matter how competitive the market, companies cannot lose sight of the law."
In a statement Director of Sales Stephen Forbes said: “We accept that a company of SSE’s standing and with SSE’s values should not have found itself in this position and we are very sorry that it did. Energy sales in SSE have been transformed in the three years since this case started and customers should have absolute trust in SSE and complete confidence in the products and service we offer.”
Audrey Gallacher, director of energy at watchdog Consumer Focus, said: "A fine of £1.25m set by the court sends a very strong message to the energy industry that it must play fair by its customers and get it right on sales.
"Surrey Trading Standards should be applauded for its persistent pursuit of a guilty verdict. It is positive that since this case started, most energy firms have ended cold-call sales on the doorstep.
Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer group Which?, said: "SSE should waste no time in contacting all those customers who were affected, and compensate them for any financial loss they may have suffered."
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