April 20, 2007 / 10:16 AM / 12 years ago

British Gas complaints soar over disputed bills

LONDON (Reuters) - Complaints against British Gas have more than doubled since it launched a new billing system last year, the energy watchdog said on Friday.

Gas burns from a ring on a domestic cooker in a home in Manchester, northern England February 13, 2006. Complaints against British Gas have more than doubled since it launched a new billing system last year, the energy watchdog said on Friday. REUTERS/Phil Noble

Tens of thousands of customers have flooded Energywatch with complaints about disputed bills, call centre delays and poor service when they finally get through.

“Their service has gone from bad to worse,” said Adam Scorer, the watchdog’s director of campaigns. “Their inability to deal with customers’ problems is inexcusable.

“Customers should not be left hanging on the phone or having to explain their circumstances to several different advisers.”

Complaints reached 21,427 between October 2006 and March this year, compared with 8,012 in the same period a year before.

In March alone, Energywatch was contacted by a record 14,000 British Gas customers.

The company has more than double the number of complaints of all its rivals put together.

“British Gas has approximately 30 percent of all gas and electricity accounts in Britain but more than 70 percent of all complaints,” Energywatch said.

Problems arose last year when the company moved the details of 16 million customers to a new computer database, according to the company’s Managing Director Phil Bentley.

He apologised and said the company, part of Centrica, had hired extra staff to help improve service.

“What we’ve got here is a situation where 99.7 percent of our customers are absolutely happy with the service,” Bentley told BBC radio. “I’m on record as saying we will see significant improvements in service by summer.”

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