DOORSTEP salespeople for Scottish Power are earning up to £60,000 a year by selling "rip-off" energy tariffs, The Sun can reveal.
Around 150 agency staff are selling tariffs costing up to £4,200 a year – twice the supplier's standard variable rate – on doorsteps and in shopping centres for the energy giant.
The energy price cap will rise to £1,971 a year on April 1.
Experts have warned that prices will rise again in October to £3,000
In the meantime households have been told to stay on standard variable tariffs which are protected by the price cap.
A current job agency advert seen by The Sun shows doorstep sellers for Scottish Power can earn up to £60,000 a year with uncapped sales bonus schemes.
It said: “We continue to offer an excellent deal for new customers with great customer service, competitive prices and fantastic offers to help people save money.”
A whistleblower has claimed that agency staff feel “under pressure” to sign customers up to expensive deals – and they are not allowed to switch them to its cheaper variable tariff.
Scottish Power is understood to pay up to £120 in kickbacks to agency staff per customer signed up.
It is claimed they have been told to tell customers that fixing will give them piece of mind. “The salesmen going door to door aren’t at all comfortable selling these but the bosses at Scottish Power are not listening,” the source said.
“It’s impossible to make out that these deals might be good value – it’s immoral and dishonest to even try, but yet that is what the sellers are having to do. They’re in an impossible position and I know some are very worried and upset by the situation.
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“They rely on commission to earn a decent wage – but to get it they’re having to convince families to pay through the nose.”
Some 20million families – the majority of UK households – are on their supplier’s standard variable tariff (SVT), which is currently capped to £1,277 a year for a typical household, but will rise to £1,971 in April.
Experts are advising families to stay on the SVT, as all fixed deals on the open market cost hundreds more than the price cap. The cheapest is a two-year fix with SSE at £2,789.99.
Some suppliers like Octopus are having flash sales on cut-price deals but they are gone within hours.
Personal finance guru Martin Lewis last week advised people only to sign up to deals that were no more than 25 per cent above the April price cap – which would be around £2,464 a year
Most consumers are already feeling the squeeze from rising energy prices, and are scared about what’s to come
But Scottish Power is understood to have signed hundreds of people up to pay £3,500 last week.
James Daley, of the Fairer Finance campaign group, said: "Most consumers are already feeling the squeeze from rising energy prices, and are scared about what’s to come.
"It's shocking to see one of the largest energy companies exploiting customers’ fears, and locking them into sky high tariffs."
Martyn James, of consumer campaign group Resolver, said: “Any energy firm using doorstep lending practices in this day and age should reconsider this practice.
"There is much fear and concern about energy prices – and with switching not recommended right now while the market settles – encouraging people to sign up to vastly inflated deals because of fears over increasing prices is totally unacceptable.
“While many experts are warning about rises to £3,000 by the end of the year, this isn't set in stone, and some of the fixed prices mentioned are already way over that.”
The supplier, which is based in Glasgow, said: “We work with face-to-face sales partners to promote our fixed-rate products only and pay a fixed level of commission.
“Our focus is on supporting our customers during this period when the wholesale energy market has never been more volatile.
"This week alone, we’ve seen the costs of buying gas and electricity for our customers jump by more than 60 per cent in the space of 24 hours, which is just incredible.
"And there is no sign of the market improving in the near future.
“As we’ve been doing since last summer, we’re continuing to offer customers the choice of locking in longer-term fixed price energy deals that provide certainty and security in terms of household costs or choosing the price-capped standard variable tariff, which is not guaranteed and is predicted by industry experts to more than double before the end of the year.
“It’s up to our customers to decide what’s best for them and the customers who sign up to our fixed rate tariffs – which are always priced in line with the actual costs of buying the energy at the time – protect themselves from that uncertainty.
"And people want to do that – we’ve recently seen our £2,000-plus fixed price tariffs sell out and our £3,500 fixed price tariff is also no longer available.
“These are unparalleled times for the energy market and the crisis is affecting all suppliers.”
An Ofgem spokesman said: “Ofgem’s number one priority is to protect customers, and we will not tolerate sharp or aggressive practice from suppliers.
"There are strict rules that suppliers have to adhere to in marketing and selling their tariffs to customers and we will not hesitate to take action where suppliers step outside these.”
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