Perth-based energy supplier SSE ends cold calls

image captionGas and electricity firm SSE said it wanted to be a company "that sells itself"

Energy supplier SSE has announced it has ended the practice of making unsolicited telephone calls to potential customers.

The Perth-based company said it had taken the step as it recognised that many people found the calls intrusive.

In future SSE will only contact existing customers or potential customers who have agreed to a call.

The move affects SSE's energy supply brands Southern Electric, Scottish Hydro and Swalec.

Recent research carried out by consumer organisation Which? found that eight out of 10 people asked had received an unsolicited call in the last month, with 8% receiving 50 or more.

A quarter of the respondents also said they felt intimidated by cold calls.

'Out of the blue'

Group managing director for retail, Will Morris, said: "Nobody likes receiving a sales call out of the blue and so we are stopping it.

"It doesn't matter that other energy companies still do it, or other industries for that matter.

"Cold calling is not something that a company like SSE - committed to providing an excellent customer experience - should be doing any longer.

"We want to be a company that sells itself, one that is recognised for being the best in its sector and one that people choose to buy from."

Mr Morris added: "This decision to end unsolicited calls is part of becoming that company and demonstrates that we are dedicated to delivering what customers want."

SSE said its focus was now on ensuring that existing customers get the best possible products, deals and customer service.

The decision to close telesales will affect 70 posts in Thatcham, Berkshire, and about 30 back office roles in St Mellons, Cardiff.

SSE said it intended "wherever possible" to redeploy the staff elsewhere in the company.

It added that a small team would be established to deal with inbound calls from potential customers but they would not make unsolicited outbound calls.

Record fine

In April, SSE was fined a record £10.5m by Ofgem for mis-selling gas and electricity.

The regulator said the mis-selling related to telephone, in-store and doorstep sales.

In July 2011, SSE halted all of its doorstep sales activity in the UK, two months after a court found SSE's sales agents had used misleading sales scripts when talking to people on their doorsteps.

The company said at the time that commission-based doorstep selling was "no longer an effective way" to gain customers.

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