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Friday, April 20, 2007

British Gas Lambasted

British Gas has been lambasted by Energywatch, which has reported that the number of complaints from customers have more than doubled in a year.

As from October 2006 to March 2007, British Gas had 21,427 complaints mainly concerning disputes over bills.

The total number of complaints and enquiries from British Gas customers hit a stonking 14,001 in March.

Ironically, although British Gas has around 30% of the market, it has over 70% of the total complaints in the industry.

Well done British Gas!

Seemingly, according to British Gas, the problems are being blamed on their new computerised billing system. How many times have we heard that tired old refrain "it's a computer error"?

Let me nail that nonsense once and for all, computers are programmed and operated by humans; the computer is only as good as the software and data input. Where errors occur, these errors are due to human error not computer error.

These problems imply that British gas had not tested its new system thoroughly enough before going live.

As if to add to the hapless customers' woes, British Gas has also managed to find itself without an adequate number of staff available to handle the complaints arising from this mess.

Energywatch noted:

"But it has compounded the error by not having the level of customer service, and the ability to handle customer complaints, in a way that leaves customers assured that British Gas is taking their problem seriously."

British Gas are rather shame faced about this fiasco, and have taken on an 800 extra staff to deal with customer queries (doubtless the extra costs of the face saving exercises will be reflected in gas future bills).

Phil Bentley, MD of British Gas, told the BBC:

"Obviously we apologise for the inconvenience and the stress.

I understand what it's like to get a bill that's incorrect. We apologise to those customers and we're working very hard to improve services

Finally, as if to rub salt in British Gas's festering wounds, Energywatch's data reveals that most other suppliers have at least halved their complaints on a year-by-year basis.

Well done British Gas!

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