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British Gas customer services – were failures worth £2.5m?

British Gas EY04LZM

Image by didbygraham via Flickr

by Ann Robinson

The announcement that British Gas would be fined £2.5m came as a shock to some, and not such a shock to others. British Gas had been accused of not properly following up complaints, especially when it came to its small business customers.

British Gas, however, argue that the mishandled complaints made up a small proportion of the 16m accounts it holds, and that the fine was ‘disproportionate’ to the crime.

This is not the first time we have heard of poor customer service in the energy market. It has notoriously come last in customer service polls when compared with other industries, and has been a cause of concern for Ofgem, which is currently investigating practices in the industry.

The uSwitch Customer Satisfaction Awards, which occurs annually, has of late shown some improvement in the industry, but not enough. Still, less than 6 in ten of us are satisfied with their service.

In fact, energy suppliers have consistently been voted the worst for getting bills wrong since 2007, worringly only losing out to the Inland Revenue.

Although 4 in 10 energy billing queries are resolved out within a week, but on average billing inaccuracies take just over 2 months to resolve.

This certainly leaves space for improvement, but what is more important is the manner with which they deal with customers.

If the customer is treated well and kept informed, it does wonders for a company’s reputation – so much so that even a complaint can a loyal customer make.

On the bright side, there are some very positive signs in the energy market. Less households are being billed inaccurately, less money is being owed as a result and less time is being taken to resolve mistakes. It may not be perfect, but at least we’re moving forward.