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Borders firm to pay £250,000 to advice agency

Spark ordered to compensate customers for breach of energy rules

Spark EnergySpark Energy has agreed to pay £250,000 to Citizens Advice to help energy consumers across the UK after the regulator found it breached switching rules and complaints handling regulations.

The Selkirk-based business wrongly stopped customers switching to other suppliers, transferred customers when it should not have, and fell short of billing and complaints handling standards. The failings largely occurred between June 2010 and October 2013.

Ofgem opened the investigation in June 2013. It was concerned about the high number of complaints concerning Spark that it received from several sources. This included a reference in May 2013 from Consumer Focus. There were complaints about customer transfers, billing and refunds. Ofgem was also concerned that Spark was not handling complaints according to the regulations.

Spark was found to have blocked customers from switching to other suppliers, and transferred certain customers to other suppliers without their express consent, to stop them building up more debt with Spark. In addition, the supplier did not bill customers correctly, nor return refunds promptly.

Sarah Harrison, senior partner in charge of enforcement at Ofgem, said: “The fact that Spark’s problems occurred when it was establishing itself in the market is no excuse for not complying with its obligations. Following our intervention, Spark has made significant progress and has put in place new processes to resolve its issues. The £250,000 reflects the seriousness of the breaches but also Spark’s size, and that during the investigation it has worked hard to resolve the issues identified.”

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