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Shell’s ‘Oops, We Did It Again’ Moment: Second Fine for Playing Fast and Loose with Customer Charges

This fine is a follow-up to their previous accolade of a £1.4 million fine by Ofcom. Shell is really racking up the awards this season!

Posted by John Donovan: 29 November 2023

In a surprising twist that no one saw coming, Shell, the epitome of corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship, has been caught yet again with its hand in the proverbial cookie jar. This time, their subsidiary Hudson Energy Supply (HES) has been bestowed with the high honour of a £1.6 million fine by Ofgem, for what is delicately termed as ‘serious overcharging’. This fine is a follow-up to their previous accolade of a £1.4 million fine by Ofcom. Shell is really racking up the awards this season!

The investigation, which started in July 2020, revealed that HES had some unique interpretations of customer service. They decided to play a little game of ‘how much can we overcharge before someone notices?’, with one lucky customer hitting the jackpot with an overcharge of £22,500. On average, customers were only overcharged by a mere £1,800 – pocket change, really. And for those who enjoy waiting, some didn’t receive their refunds for a leisurely seven months.

Cathryn Scott, director of enforcement and emerging issues at Ofgem, said, “In this case a series of failings by HES has resulted in unacceptable outcomes for energy customers, with a number being unjustifiably overcharged by significant amounts, resulting in serious customer harm.” She went on to deliver a stern warning that outsourcing compliance is not an excuse for a regulatory holiday.

Meanwhile, Shell, in a display of remarkable corporate humility, admitted to the breaches. Their spokesperson shared that the fines were related to “a historic commercial arrangement” and assured everyone that they had taken “appropriate remedial actions to ensure that these failures are not repeated.” They graciously agreed to settle the case with Ofgem for a trivial sum of £1,668,426, which will go towards supporting vulnerable energy consumers and other noble causes.

In a classic ‘it wasn’t me’ defence, Shell insisted that all these shenanigans occurred before they bought HES. Because, as we all know, once a company changes hands, all previous sins are magically absolved. So, let’s all give a round of applause to Shell for their ongoing commitment to making the world a better place, one fine at a time.

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