British Gas Fined for Inadequate Complaints Handling

British Gas has been fined £2.5 million by the energy regulator Ofgem for the mishandling of customer complaints – another sign that Ofgem is serious about keeping the energy industry in line.

British GasBritish Gas is the UK’s largest energy supplier, serving nearly half of British households – but customers are losing out because of the company’s poor handling of complaints.

That’s the conclusion of energy regulator Ofgem, which has just hit British Gas with a £2.5 million fine – the largest ever fine it has imposed for customer service issues.

Specifically, Ofgem found that British Gas had failed to reopen complaints when customers indicated that their complaint was not resolved, and that the company did not have adequate procedures in place for dealing with complaints from so-called micro businesses (those with 10 employees or fewer).

British Gas was therefore found to be in breach of the regulations which set the standards for complaint handling – which came into force in October 2008.

Ofgem’s senior partner for sustainable development, Sarah Harrison, commented: “Today’s finding highlights basic failures in British Gas’ customer service, particularly in dealing with some of its small business customers, and shows Ofgem’s commitment to use its powers to ensure suppliers treat customers fairly and transparently.”

British Gas, however, described Ofgem’s fine as “totally disproportionate”, but admitted failings in dealing with micro businesses.

Other energy companies are also under the microscope, however. Ofgem is currently investigating both nPower and EDF Energy for their handling of customer complaints.

Moneyhighstreet comments: “The fine by Ofgem is likely to spur on British Gas to improve its complaints handling procedures and invest more in them – and that’s always good news for customers, who can now look forward to having their complaints better handled.

“The move is welcome in the aftermath of recent price rises announced by British Gas, with the average price of gas to rise by 18% and electricity by 16% – consumers will be looking for value in all areas of the company’s service.”

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