Plumbing firm tackles sales scandal

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THE HomeServe emergency plumber firm has said it is making progress improving its UK business after a mis-selling scandal, but added it does not know when a probe by the regulator will finish.

The group, which covers boilers against breakdowns and fixes burst pipes, has about 2.5m UK customers and works with utility giants including Yorkshire Water.

It revealed in May it is being investigated by the Financial Services Authority after discovering flaws in its sales and marketing and complaints handling.

The company, whose chief executive Richard Harpin lives near York, said it is making progress on “restoring its customer focus” in the UK.

Mr Harpin said the changes are starting to show increased customer satisfaction and reduced complaints.

“The UK is making progress in simplifying and refocusing its business,” he said.

“Transition of our UK business to a smaller, customer-focused business will take time to fully deliver but I’m pleased with the progress.”

Mr Harpin said he does not anticipate a wave of customer cancellations once the outcome of the FSA’s probe is known.

He added when it first revealed the FSA’s involvement in October 2011, only 1,200 customers called to cancel their policies.

“That’s the reassurance from a customer base of almost three million at the time,” he said.

He added the investigation could take a number of months to complete – and could result in a fine.

HomeServe also said it has renewed deals with two of its larger water company business partners, but did not name them.