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TSI welcomes energy company guilty verdict

TSI - leading the trading standards professionThe Trading Standards Institute first highlighted misleading tactics used by utility doorstep salespeople in 2009 which drove us to then call for a ban on doorstep energy sales. Our campaigns have seen the Big Six energy companies agree to not operate in areas that have been identified as No Cold Calling Zones (NCCZs) and now Surrey Trading Standards has led an investigation that has resulted in a landmark guilty verdict for one of these Big Six energy companies.

Ron Gainsford, Chief Executive for TSI, said: ‘This ruling is a major breakthrough in protecting consumers from being misled into switching energy suppliers. This is something we have been calling for since our Conference in 2009, along with us championing the legal status for No Cold Calling Zones (NCCZs). By choosing a provider there is a real place for consumers to drive genuine competitiveness in the energy market, but to do so they need to be given much more confidence in their switching options being based on true and beneficial information. TSI is open to working with the industry, Ofgem, the good switching sites and our consumer partners to achieve this. 

‘We congratulate Surrey Trading Standards on its professional resolve which will hopefully signal the end of consumers finding themselves intimidated or misled into switching energy providers only to end up paying higher or duplicate bills for months on end. For the more vulnerable consumer this can be a truly nightmare scenario.’


If you require further information or to arrange an interview please contact Lizi Piggins on the contact details below.

Lizi Piggins
Press Officer
Trading Standards Institute

Phone: 0845 608 9430
Mobile: 07780 675 815
Fax: 0845 608 9425

Scottish and Southern Energy found guilty of misleading consumers

Scottish and Southern Energy has been found guilty of misleading potential customers on their doorsteps to get them to switch energy supplier, following a successful prosecution by Surrey County Council Trading Standards.

The energy firm was found guilty on two counts of taking part in misleading selling practices relating to a sales script, between September 2008 and July 2009. The company was found not guilty on five other similar matters.

The verdict was delivered today following a trial at Guildford Crown Court in what is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind in the country brought against one of the big six energy firms. Sentencing will take place on 27 May.

Steve Playle, the Surrey County Council Trading Standards officer who led the investigation, said: “I am absolutely delighted at the result. The hard work put into this case by Surrey County Council Trading Standards throughout the last two years has paid off. When we first became aware of the sales script being used by Scottish and Southern Energy we were convinced that it overstepped the mark and was misleading to potential customers.

“A doorstep seller had a print out which he claimed showed consumers were paying too much with their current energy supplier, but the print out did not show this. 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.”

“Energy supply by the big six firms is obviously highly competitive but it is a complex market with hundreds of different tariffs that make meaningful price comparisons quite difficult.”


For more information and interview opportunities, contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley 0208 541 7259