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Tuesday 20 August 2019

Energy firm E to pay £260,000 after probe finds sales reps misled consumers

Ofgem said sales reps were “misleading in their approach” when going door to door.

Energy price cap
Energy price cap

By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association City Reporter

Energy firm E has been fined £260,000 for failing to carry out background checks on door-to-door sales reps who misled customers by posing as an independent price comparison service.

Industry watchdog Ofgem said that sales representatives contracted out from an agency called Energy Watch UK were “misleading in their approach” when going door to door and failed to disclose they were working on behalf of E.

E also dispatched those sales agents without conducting criminal records checks, and “did not act quickly enough to put things right”, Ofgem said.

“E’s management knew of these failures in 2014, but did not correct them until 2017,” Ofgem said.

The energy firm has now agreed to pay £260,000 “to make amends”, it added.

Martin Crouch, Ofgem’s senior partner for improving regulation, said: “E did not put security and transparency first when it came to face-to-face sales, and risked the trust and well-being of potential customers.

“This payment sends an important reminder to all suppliers that there’s no room for misleading behaviour when it comes to selling energy.”

The watchdog said the size of the payout was partly a reflection of the fact that E is a smaller supplier and did not financially impact customers as a result of its sales and marketing failures.

The money will go towards Ofgem’s Voluntary Redress Fund, which in turn will go to charity to help vulnerable energy consumers.

E has since worked with Energy Watch UK to ensure its face-to-face sales process is “more transparent” and said it also started to carry out sufficient background checks, including criminal records checks, on all of its sales agents.

Ofgem said Energy Watch UK has also since rebranded as Amblin, with representatives given new uniforms and material changes to their scripts, making it clear they represent E.

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