%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Scottish Power has agreed to pay £750,000 following an Ofgem investigation into price differences between its standard credit and direct debit tariffs.
The investigation found that between September 2009 and December 2012 Scottish Power did not have a robust process to assess the cost of different payment types and set prices accordingly.
Under Ofgem rules, suppliers can only have different prices for different payment methods if the amount reflects the costs involved in supplying those accounts.
These rules are designed to protect consumers and take into account that some payment methods are more expensive to administer than others.
Scottish Power will pay the £750,000 to the Energy Best Deal campaign run by Citizens Advice which helps consumers with their energy accounts.
Ofgem said the size of the penalty reflected the scale of the breach and took into account Scottish Power's willingness to accept its failings and make payments that benefited consumers.
Ofgem senior partner in charge of enforcement, Sarah Harrison, said: "Suppliers need to clearly justify the different prices they set for different payment methods.
"In this instance, Scottish Power did not have a robust process in place when setting their prices to
ensure that the difference between their tariffs complied with Ofgem's rules.
"We've held them to account for this and they will now pay £750,000 to benefit Energy Best Deal."
A Scottish Power spokesman said: "Scottish Power has co-operated fully with this investigation.
"We recognise that historically we did not have a robust process in place but we are pleased that Ofgem has concluded its investigation and made no finding that any specific impact on customers resulted from our failure to have these processes in place.
"We fixed this problem by December 2012 and all of these processes are now fully compliant."
10 of the biggest consumer rip-offs
£750,000 penalty for Scottish Power
Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, send texts and browse the web while abroad can be extremely costly – especially if you are travelling outside the European Union (EU), where calls can cost up to 10 times as much as at home.
To avoid high charges, Carphone Warehouse suggests tourists ensure a data cap is in place, use applications to check data usage, turn off 'data roaming', avoid data-intensive applications such as Google Maps and YouTube and use wi-fi spots to update social networking sites.
Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) is supposed to help people to continue meeting their loan, mortgage or credit card repayments if they fall ill or lose their jobs. However, policies are often over-priced, riddled with exclusions and sold to people who could not make a claim if they needed to.
At one point, sale of this cover - which was often included automatically in loan repayments - was estimated to boost the banks' profits by up to £5 billion a year.
Now, though, consumers who were mis-sold PPI can fight back by complaining to the bank or lender concerned and taking their case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (08000 234567) should the response prove unsatisfactory.
It could be you, but let's face it, it probably won't be. In fact, buying a ticket for the Lotto only gives you a 1 in 13.9 million chance of winning the jackpot.
With odds like that, you would almost certainly be better off hanging on to your cash and saving it in a high-interest account.
No-frills airlines such as EasyJet may promote rock-bottom prices on their websites. But the overall fare you pay can be surprisingly high once extras such as luggage and credit card payment fees have been added - a process known as drip pricing.
Taking one piece of hold baggage on a return EasyJet flight, for example, adds close to £20 to the cost of your flight, while paying by credit card increases the price by a further £10.
It may therefore be worth comparing the total cost with that of a flight with a standard airline such as British Airways.
Cash advances, which include cash withdrawals, are generally charged at a much higher rate of interest than standard purchases.
While the average credit card interest rate is around 17%, a typical cash withdrawal of £500, for example, is charged at more than 26%.
What's more, as the interest accrues from the date of the transaction, rather than the next payment date, costs will mount up even if you clear your balance in full with your next payment.
Supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda often run promotions under which you can, for example, get three products for the price of two.
However, it is only worth taking advantage of these deals if you will actually use the products. Otherwise, you are simply buying for the sake of it, which is a waste of your hard-earned cash.
Buy a train ticket at the station on the day of travel and the price is likely to give you a shock - especially if you are travelling a long distance at a busy time of day.
However, you can cut the cost of train travel by 50% or more by going online and making the purchase beforehand - especially if you book 12 weeks in advance, which is when the cheapest tickets are on sale.
Other ways to reduce the price you pay include avoiding peak times and taking advantage of so-called carnet tickets, which allow you to buy, for example, 12 journeys for the price of 10.
Most High Street banks offer packaged accounts that come with monthly fees ranging from £6.50 up to as much as £40, with a typical account charging about £15 per month.
Various benefits, such as travel insurance and mobile phone insurance, are offered in return for this fee. But whether or not it is worth paying for them depends on your individual circumstances.