SCOTTISHPOWER faces renewed pressure to refund hundreds of thousands of former customers said to be owed £75 million as campaigners launch a PR offensive aimed at “shaming” the company into paying up.
The issue relates to a cashback offer to customers at ScottishPower’s chain of electrical goods stores more than a decade ago. Shoppers who bought a warranty on items such as fridges and washing machines were told they could get the money back after five years if they had not made a claim. More than 750,000 such warranties were sold between 1998 and 2001, of which about 625,000 did not make a claim and were therefore eligible for the “cashback”. However, by then ScottishPower had divested its chain of stores to Powerhouse, which subsequently went into administration.
Two firms which administered and insured the warranties also went bust, and attempts by their administrators to claim money from ScottishPower yielded only £6m.
That is at the core of the dispute which resurfaced last year after Douglas MacDonald, liquidator of Powerplan Company Limited, sent a report to authorities alleging that ScottishPower should have been liable for the full amount.
A cross-party group of MPs has been formed to look into the matter, and campaigners have now written to potential claimants urging them to contact their MP. The group has also launched a website called Scottish-Powerbrokenpromises.co.uk on which it claims: “With a lot of people power, we aim to shame ScottishPower into paying up.”
ScottishPower has always made clear that it does not agree with the picture presented by those trying to hold it liable, vowing to “strongly defend its position against any action that may be taken”.
Yesterday a ScottishPower spokesman said: “The Power-Plan scheme did not involve any wrongdoing by ScottishPower.
“ScottishPower emphatically rejects any suggestion of improper conduct. The scheme is currently the subject of threatened court proceedings and it is accordingly inappropriate for ScottishPower to comment further.”
SUBSCRIBE TO THE SCOTSMAN’S BUSINESS BRIEFING