Homeserve suspends telesales to probe mis-selling claim

Telephone keypad
Image caption An internal review at Homeserve found sales techniques did not meet the company's standards

Insurance and maintenance company Homeserve has suspended all telephone sales amid claims of mis-selling by its call centre staff.

The Sun newspaper reported 100 workers at the company's biggest call centre in Walsall, West Midlands, were given the day off on Friday as a probe began.

It said an internal investigation had suggested some employees were using questionable sales techniques.

The firm has suspended outbound calls and says it is retraining 500 staff.

The company said a review conducted over the past month had found that in some cases sales techniques at its call centre did not meet the company's standards.

Earlier this year Homeserve and another company, Npower, were investigated by Ofcom after it was suggested call centre staff were ringing homes and then abandoning the calls before speaking, leaving customers with silence.

The Sun's story claimed any investigation could look at whether Homeserve's staff were guilty of selling cover without fully explaining what the customer was paying, or the package they were buying.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA), which could fine the company if it is found guilty of breaching sales regulations, has not commented.

Homeserve said it had been in "regular dialogue" with the FSA, which had been informed of the measures it had implemented.

In a statement, Homeserve said: "The review showed that there were cases where its sales processes did not meet the company's required standards.

"Following this review, the company has therefore decided to suspend all telephone sales and marketing activity.

"The company's service to customers making a claim or renewing their policy is unaffected by this decision."

It went on to say that a retraining had started for telephone sales staff and the call centre would be able to take "inbound" calls from 1 November.

"The company will not recommence 'outbound' sales calls until relevant staff have been through a comprehensive retraining programme and until it is confident that all sales procedures meet the standards it expects," the statement added.

A spokeswoman added there would be no redundancies as a result of the measures.

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Media captionMy Bottom Line: Richard Harpin

'Swift action'

Homeserve was founded in 1993 by chief executive Richard Harpin as a joint venture with South Staffordshire Water and has grown rapidly in recent years.

It sells homeowners insurance to provide them with cover against drain blockages, burst pipes, faulty boilers and electrical problems and describes itself in adverts as "Britain's fifth emergency service".

Mr Harpin said: "We are determined to ensure customers receive the highest standards of service and we have therefore taken swift action to address the issues identified by our review.

"We have commenced a programme to retrain staff.

"We will resume marketing once we are confident that our sales processes meet the standards that we and our customers expect."

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