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Watchdog imposes penalty on cup backer

New Scottish League Cup sponsor fined for poor customer service

Utilita Scottish League CuoAn energy firm was unveiled as the new sponsor of the Scottish Football League Cup yesterday just as the industry regulator imposed a big fine on the company for poor customer service.

The Scottish Professional Football League chief executive Neil Doncaster announced Utilita as the tournament’s title sponsor for the rest of the season.

But the launch coincided with Ofgem ordering the company to pay £560,000 for blocking 40,000 customers from switching accounts.

Utilita will pay £450,000 to debt charity StepChange. It is also working to refund £110,000 to customers who lost out financially after being stopped from switching. Any unclaimed money will go to StepChange.

Ofgem’s ruling states that between June 2010 and May 2015, Utilita wrongly stopped customers from switching away. Customers were incorrectly blocked by the supplier in a variety of ways, including automatically blocking those on fixed term contracts.

Utilita also failed to write to customers to explain why their switch had been blocked and what action they could take to resolve any issues. The supplier has now made changes to its processes to ensure there are no unfair barriers to switching.

The regulator said Utilita has shown good cooperation throughout the investigation, and the penalty issued reflects this.

Anthony Pygram, Ofgem’s senior partner with responsibility for enforcement said: “The ability to switch suppliers is important for customers and fundamental to a well-functioning energy market. Utilita’s prolonged failure to allow many customers to switch was unacceptable. Utilita acknowledges its failure and is rightly looking to refund customers left out of pocket.”

Mr Doncaster said there was likely to be a change to the competition’s format next year with group stages and a July start.



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