Wednesday, 19 December 2012

British Gas - a shocking bill

After more than 25 years as a British Gas customer, I finally decided last month to leave for a cheaper and greener supplier, OvoEnergy.  The process seemed to be going really smoothly until I received my final electricity statement a few days ago.

It was good news in a way. You see, I'd been slightly overpaying every month and my account was almost £73 in credit. I was due a refund. (Hooray!) Somewhere around £62 it seemed. But then I looked again at the statement from British Gas.

"Your adjustments"  debit: £50.13  

So you'll only get £12.70 from us. (Booo!)

British Gas adds on a trumped-up, five-year old charge of £50 for work that was never done
But hold on. I was on a standard tariff, dual fuel. There are no fees for cancelling any contract, because I simply don't have one. I was confused; where did this £50.13p charge come from?

A chat to their call centre staff revealed that I wasn't alone in being confused; they simply couldn't tell me, either, "We'll have to refer it upwards", the man said. "We'll get back to you with an answer on Monday."

Monday came and went, so on Tuesday I rang again and repeated my question. It turned out that back in 2007 I'd enquired (note the word "enquired") about the cost of changing  my dual rate meter (i.e. economy 7) to a single  rate meter. They said they had overlooked billing me for changing the meter,  "so we'd  like it now, before you leave us, please!"

Not only is it shocking to think that British Gas can dredge up an unpaid bill from five years ago, it's utterly appalling that they try it on because my electricity meter was never changed. The work was never done. It was just an enquiry I made in 2007. Yes, my meter did eventually get changed some years later, but at British Gas' request, and when the engineer turned up to do the replacement, he only had a single rate meter with him. I didn't realise this until it had been installed.  But I've been happy with it; the costs have been about the same.

But I'm not at all happy at British Gas trying it on by trumping up an unpaid bill for work that was never done. And to add on a fake 5-year old fee just as I am leaving them seems petty in the extreme. OK, they have agreed to delete the "adjustment" and reimburse me the full amount I overpaid. But next time you hear British Gas offering to "Fix Your Prices"  you'll know just what that could mean!

 And if that's not a good reason to change supplier, I don't know what is.

What British Gas promises it will do for you!

Addendum: After receiving five more paper printouts of my "final bill", I finally received a cheque for £62.83 - but it was made out, not to the person who's been paying the bills for the last 25 years, but to my wife!

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