Press release -

Building trust in energy retailing

SSE plc has today published a document setting out its initial plans and priorities to address retail energy customers’ concerns relating to complexity, transparency and customer service. The implementation of a number of these measures is already underway and the whole programme should be completed during 2012.

Complexity 

  • SSE will introduce an 'APR-style' Energy Price Rate to help customers compare prices on a consistent basis; and
  • SSE has terminated around 20% of its tariff arrangements in advance of a more radical approach it expects to unveil next year.

Transparency 

  • SSE will publish on a continuing basis an externally-sourced and objectively-produced tracker showing the movements in costs that make up an energy bill;
  • SSE will set out on customers’ Annual Energy Statement how their bill is made up, including any profit that is made; and
  • SSE is introducing a new and transparent approach to the trading of its electricity generation and demand.*

Customer Service 

  • SSE will ensure all of its customers have the opportunity to access any tariff rate it offers;
  • SSE will offer every customer an Annual Energy Review to make sure they’re getting the most appropriate energy deal;
  • SSE will introduce a mis-selling guarantee which means if it makes a mistake in the sales process, it will make good that mistake; and
  • SSE will establish formally-constituted forums for customers in England, Scotland and Wales.

In addition to all of the above measures, SSE has re-iterated its commitment to ensuring its tariffs are properly cost-reflective and that no ‘predatory pricing’ takes place. In line with that, the differential between SSE’s standard credit price and its standard online tariff is already, by some distance, the lowest among leading suppliers (as at 7 October 2011).

In July, SSE became the first of the leading energy suppliers to stop commission-based doorstep selling. It also confirmed it would add to its existing disclosure of complaints sent about it to the Energy Ombudsman, Consumer Focus and Consumer Direct by publishing a report on its complaints performance every quarter, and publish this on its customer websites.

SSE is also the only leading energy supplier to state that it will not implement another increase in the price of household electricity and gas, if it has to, before August 2012 at the earliest.

SSE supplies electricity and gas as Southern Electric in England, Scottish Hydro in Scotland, SWALEC in Wales, and through Atlantic via the internet. It has around nine million customers in the Great Britain market.

The full document covering SSE’s proposals is available at www.sse.com/buildingtrust.

Ian Marchant, SSE’s Chief Executive, presented and discussed these proposals as part of an event hosted by the Policy Exchange at 1.30pm in London today**

SSE Chief Executive Ian Marchant said: “In this decade and beyond, energy needs to be about three things: capacity; carbon and the customer. For very good reasons, much attention has focused on the vital issues of capacity and carbon. But, at the end of the day, it’s the customer who needs secure, low carbon and affordable energy, and it’s the customer who deserves the best possible deal.

“Energy companies do a huge amount of good work on a day-in, day-out basis. The reality is, however, that too many customers have little or no trust in their supplier or the sector. I want to change that, and at SSE we have a ‘starter for 10’ – ten early steps we want to take to build trust in us and what we do.

“Earlier this year, Ofgem said that in a period of rising prices, suppliers have to transform the way they deal with customers. Ofgem was right. Last month, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said a Competition Commission inquiry would cause two years of delay. He was right too – except the delay would probably be five years.

“That’s far too long to wait. The time for action is now, and action is what this company, at least, is determined to take. We want to get on with delivering this plan and identifying and implementing the next set of ideas to build trust. Customers deserve no less.”

Subjects

  • Energy