British Gas Business are being forced to pay a massive £9.5 million penalty from the energy regulators after customers had a number of billing problems and complaints issues. Delayed and inaccurate bills were sent to a number of business customers following the installation of a new computer system in 2014.
Poor customer services
According to Ofgem, the regulator, there had been an increase in people ringing the British Gas business contact number to query their bills following the installation of a new £40million computer system. The failing in customer service led to the penalty, which will be partly paid as compensation to customers affected and partly as a charity payment.
Tens of thousands of customers were left with inaccurate bills or simply didn’t receive a bill at all. This meant phone calls to the British Gas Business number to find out what their payments would be and to query the information, all of which cost time and money to the businesses in question.
A further 6,000 new business customers experienced problems registering with the company but this was mostly down to the company having insufficient people in place on the main British Gas business contact number.
British Gas apologised to customers and said that their customer service systems had been improved since the incident. They had initially compensated some customers themselves and then referred the matter to the regulator when they recognised the scale of the problem.
To make the improvements, the company have hired some 350 extra staff to help deal with the backlog and ensure it doesn’t reoccur. In addition to the money paid to micro-businesses, they will also be paying some of the penalty to Money Advice Trust, which runs the Business Debtline, helping businesses who are experiencing financial difficulties.
British Gas admitted that the work to use the new system was more difficult than they anticipated. They were combining some 100 different systems into one and the process proved to be more difficult than anticipated. This led to an increase in called to their dedicated British Gas Business phone number and the report to Ofgem.
While the penalty for the company is large, it is smaller than fines handed out to other suppliers for similar issues. Npower was fined £26 million in December 2015 for billing and complaints issues while Scottish Power was handed a £18 million fine in April for computer problems.
If you think your business bill from British Gas is incorrect or you haven’t received the information you need, you can contact the British Gas Business number for more information. If you think that your business is struggling with bills and needs help, you can contact charities such as the Business Debtline as well as the Citizens Advice Bureau for help and advice.
British Gas themselves will always be available to listen to concerns and issues and help other businesses in trouble wherever possible but it is always best to get in touch with them as soon as you realise there may be an issue.