Ofgem have threatened to take charge of Scottish Power with a selling ban if they don’t offer better customer service for energy consumers within the next three months. It’s a brave move by Ofgem, and it seems to be a case of punishing to make an example. Continual warnings to The Big Six to improve behaviour in terms of billing, customer service and pricing have fallen on deaf ears, and Ofgem have finally stepped up try and encourage better customer service.
Senior partner Sarah Harrison stated, ‘In a properly functioning market we would expect companies to compete keenly on service.’. But is the UK a ‘properly functioning market’?
In June, Npower were warned to give better customer service and lower customer complaints or suffer a telesales ban, and this latest reflection on behavior suggests Ofgem are moving away from the previous fines placed on misbehavior and hitting harder by threatening energy providers with customer loss.
As with Npower reforming it’s billing and services just two months after receiving the ultimatum from Ofgem, Scottish Power will no doubt be trying hard to resolve customer issues and offer better customer service, but what does it say about The Big Six if when threatened with real customer and financial loss, they can suddenly sort out all problems that have failed to be even looked at over years of public dissatisfaction?
We feel these kind of regulatory threats, although harsh, could be the answer to energy providers bad behavior. The market ”reform” that was put in place to make the market ”more simple, clearer and fairer” by cutting down the amount of tariffs single energy providers could offer, was a big and complicated, whereas a simple consequence for bad behavior may have a lasting effect. Don’t change the system, change the consequences.