Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Monday, 22 December 2008

Npower fined over doorstep sales

Npower contract
Npower's door-to-door salespeople misled customers

The energy regulator Ofgem has announced that it will fine energy supplier Npower £1.8m.

It said the company had not taken sufficient action to prevent the mis-selling of contracts to its customers.

Npower dismissed six members of its sales team in May following its own investigation into allegations that potential customers had been misled.

Rules state that customers must be fully aware that they are entering into a contract.

Insufficient action

Ofgem ruled that Npower had breached the conditions of its supply licence by failing to take sufficient action after complaints from customers about door-to-door salespeople.

It said that Npower had procedures in place to follow up the complaints, but that managers had not applied them properly.

As a result, mis-selling went unchecked.

"This decision sends a clear message to energy suppliers that failing customers and falling short of licence standards will lead to Ofgem action," said Sarah Harrison at Ofgem.

The regulator said it would propose tougher rules on doorstep sales next year in order to tackle mis-selling.

These might include forcing salespeople to provide written quotations comparing their offer with a customer's present supplier.

Ofgem began its inquiry in April into the mis-selling by sales representatives.

Npower suspended 17 members of staff in the same month after an undercover reporter claimed customers were being misled.

The Worcester-based company is owned by German energy giants RWE.

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