Isles MP Angus MacNeil has been contacted by more than 40 constituents who say they have been denied access to Scottish Gas’ cheapest advertised tariff, in the ongoing row between Scottish Gas and its island customer base.
Last month, following a complaint by his constituent - Derek McPherson of Fernlea Guesthouse, Stornoway - Mr MacNeil revealed that he had evidence that island LPG customers were being denied access to advertised tariffs enjoyed by mainland customers.
Scottish Gas has now admitted that Mr McPherson’s failure to access such tariffs may not, as it originally claimed, be an isolated case. In a letter to Mr MacNeil, Scottish Gas has conceded that its call-handlers may have given the wrong advice to island customers regarding these advertised tariffs.
To date, however, the company has not extended that admission into an acceptance of responsibility for the increasing number of island customers who say they have been refused access to its most economic tariffs. Ofgem is continuing to investigate the matter.
Mr MacNeil said: “I have been inundated by calls from my constituents since this issue was raised last month and I have called upon Scottish Gas to address this situation as a matter of urgency.
“I am pleased that the company is now looking into the individual cases I have brought to its attention and I look forward to seeing a positive outcome for my constituents.
“I am, and will remain in close contact with Scottish Gas regarding individual cases – including Mr McPherson’s – and I have asked for clarity on a number of comments made by the company, particularly its assertion that Mr McPherson was ‘given incorrect information over the phone’; in fact Mr McPherson was provided with this incorrect information in writing and on more than one occasion.
"It was these written responses to Mr McPherson’s demands to access one of the company’s advertised deals which led to Ofgem’s involvement in this matter.
“This issue, of course, has wider implications. A large number of my constituents in Stornoway, many of whom struggle with fuel poverty, are likely to have been disadvantaged by Scottish Gas’ incorrect information.
“Since this issue has become public, Scottish Gas has claimed that of the 1,538 LPG customers in Stornoway, 350 have switched to a ‘different tariff’. In response, I have requested the company reveal how many of those 350 customers managed to do so by phone and how many by online applications.
"If it transpires that customers who did switch, did so by online application this would have very serious implications for those customers to whom online commerce is not an option. And that would include many of my elderly constituents.
“There remain important outstanding issues regarding this matter, and I look forward to a full and positive response from both Scottish Gas and Ofgem.”