Please don’t be off with Ofgem

Sonoo Singh’s article “Ofgem’s penalties lack financial clout” (MW October 11) stated that customers would have to “grin and bear” aggressive sales tactics because of confusion about our powers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Customers are at the heart of everything that Ofgem does. That is why we take concerns about companies’ marketing practices very seriously. Ofgem regularly monitors all companies’ performance on direct selling, customer transfers and billings.

If we have particular concerns about an individual company’s performance, and are not satisfied that they are being addressed, we can seek undertakings from the company. This is the action we took in npower’s case.

If a combination of these measures, and the associated negative publicity which this often attracts, does not remedy the situation then Ofgem can take further action, restricting the company’s marketing activity and customer transfers.

The majority of the provisions of the Utilities Act 2000 were implemented on October 1. The provisions relating to the use of financial penalties, however, require secondary legislation before Ofgem can use them. This secondary legislation has yet to be made. The powers will apply to all licensees, not just suppliers.

Also, contrary to Centrica’s quote in the article, Ofgem has been ready to use these powers since April.

Finally, to put things in context, between 67,000 and 100,000 electricity customers switch supplier each week. That means, on average, there is just one complaint for every 1,500 customers who switch supplier.

Sarah Harrison

Director, public affairs

Ofgem

London SW1

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