Ofgem Slaps British Gas with £2.5 million Fine
British Gas has been slapped with a fine of £2.5 million from energy regulator Ofgem. This is in response to the company’s poor handling of customer complaints and failing to let customers know they can appeal to the energy ombudsman. Ofgem says the energy provider didn’t reopen complaints when customers indicated the issue hadn’t been resolved, while it also didn’t provide customers with key details about the energy ombudsman’s redress service if their complaint wasn’t resolved.
British Gas has called the £2.5 million fine ‘totally disproportionate.’ A spokesman says that the breach was minor compared to the 16 million accounts served by the company. However, they acknowledge their service wasn’t what is expected of them - particularly in regards to their micro-business customers. The company knew of the issue, which is why it flagged it to the regulator. They are more confident of meeting the regulator’s requirements after investing £4 million.
Sarah Harrison, an Ofgem senior partner, said that the finding highlights the basic failures in customer service at British Gas - especially with its small business customers. The regulator warned the industry earlier this year that it would be taking a tough approach to enforcement, backing up its plans for reform. This £2.5 million fine, along with the other £10 million worth of fines against the energy industry this year so far, is a clear message for energy providers. The fines also show the commitment of the authority to use its power to ensure that suppliers treat customers transparently and fairly.
Consumer groups welcome the decision, as 9 of 10 complaints to the energy ombudsman are redressed in some way. Richard Lloyd, the executive director of Which?, says that customers should be told that they can take an unresolved issue to the energy authority. It’s well worth pursuing, as 7 of 10 redressed complaints get financial compensation.