Shell Energy fined £1.4 million for failing to tell broadband customers when contracts ended – urgently check you're not overpaying
If you're a Shell Energy broadband and home phone customer, you should urgently check you're not overpaying, as the provider has been fined £1.4 million by the regulator for failing to notify around 65,000 customers that their contracts were ending. The firm has also refunded more than 6,000 customers who were overcharged after being quoted the wrong price in their end-of-contract notifications.
We explain who should have received a refund and what went wrong below. If you're looking for a new broadband provider, use our Broadband Unbundled tool to compare the latest deals.
What Shell Energy did wrong
Under consumer protection rules set out by telecoms regulator Ofcom, broadband firms must let their customers know between 10 and 40 days before that their contract is due to end. Meanwhile, those already out of contract should be contacted by their provider every year reminding them that they are free to leave or change their deal.
These notifications must include information on the best deals available at the time from the supplier sending the notification, though the notification should also say that you may be able to get a better deal from another provider. This is to help customers understand whether they can save money by changing provider or signing up to a new deal.
However, between 26 March 2020 and 14 June 2022, Shell broke these rules by:
1.Failing to send annual out-of-contract reminders and end-of-contract notifications. Around 65,000 customers were affected by this. If you're still with Shell, you should urgently check you're not overpaying.
2. Sending end-of-contract notifications with incorrect information. This affected 7,750 customers. Of those, some 6,054 went on to pay more for their broadband and home phone than they were originally quoted. These customers have now been refunded – see below for more on this.
The rule breaches were caused by "a combination of manual errors and systems and process failures", which Shell says have now been rectified. Ofcom confirmed that Shell has made changes to help prevent this happening again.
If you're still a customer of Shell, and had a contract that was due to expire between March 2020 and June 2022, you may not have been told your deal was coming to an end.
Shell told us it had a 'no price rise guarantee' active at the time, so you shouldn't have been charged any more after your contract expired – and therefore you won't be due any refund.
However, it's still worth spending a few minutes to check that you're not overpaying and that you're getting the speed you need – especially if you haven't done this since your contract ended.
As you're out of contract, you should also be able to leave Shell penalty-free if you can find a better deal elsewhere. Here are the key steps you should take:
- First, check if you're out of contract. The easiest way to do this is via your online account on Shell's website. Alternatively, you should have received details about your contract when you joined Shell, so you can check your emails for a contract start or end date (make sure to check your junk mail folder, too). Failing that, you can call Shell on 03300 945801 or email email@example.com.
If you're still in contract, diarise to shop around and find a new deal as your contract end date approaches – you have to give at least 30 days notice to your current provider. If you're out of contract, you're likely to be overpaying, so follow the rest of the steps below.
- Benchmark prices elsewhere. You can use our Broadband Unbundled tool to see what other deals are out there.
- Ditch and switch. In most cases, you just need to contact your new provider and it'll take care of the switch (though the process is different when switching to or from Virgin Media – see our Cheap broadband guide for more info on this).
- Want to stay with Shell? Try haggling. See if it will match or beat a deal you've found elsewhere. Our Broadband haggling guide has lots of tips on how to do this.
Shell has already refunded affected customers a total of £398,417.67 in amounts overcharged between March 2020 and June 2022, though the firm refused to tell us how and when these were paid. If you're still with Shell, it is likely to have been refunded as credit to your broadband or phone account, so do check your recent bills.
For those who've since switched to another provider, you may get the money by cheque or directly into your bank account, if Shell still holds those details. Shell is required to repay ex-customers if they request it and we've asked Ofcom how much is still available in unclaimed refunds. We'll update this story when we have more details. If you think you're owed but haven't heard from Shell, contact it using the details on Shell's website.
Where refunds of less than £3 are due to those who are no longer customers of the company, Shell has instead donated the amount to charity. The firm is also required to pay a further £1.4 million fine to HM Treasury within four weeks.