British Gas Business is to pay £9.5 million for customer services failing including complaints handling, registrations and billing processes for business consumers.
In March 2014 British Gas Business instated a new IT billing system which left tens of thousands of business customer with inaccurate or delayed bills and over 6,000 new customers had experienced delays with registering with a supplier.
Due to this issue the number of complaints to British Gas Business rose significantly and many were handled ineffectively or there were delays in their responses. Following this British Gas Business voluntarily came forward to Ofgem to report the problems experienced in December 2014
An Ofgem investigation revealed that the supplier had not treated its business customers fairly and did not do enough to protect customers affected by the issues from the new billing system. This included a missed opportunity to make sure that they allocated enough staff to deal with complaints and their customer service process was adequate enough to manage the situation.
After the initial issues came to light British Gas Business acted to reduce levels of delayed bills, contacted customers to explain problems with their new system and compensated some of the business customers affected.
They have since taken steps to improve their service for businesses and put right their customer service process. Including hiring 350 specialist agents to help with their open complaints backlog and increased number of calls, as well as improving their performance on customer and billing registrations.
British Gas Business has agreed to pay the £9.5 million in reparation. This amounts includes direct payments to the affected micro-business customers and to the charity Money Advice Trust, which provides the Business Debtline service which helps energy customers in need.
Ofgem’s CEO Dermot Nolan comments: “British Gas Business has done the right thing by coming forward to Ofgem to report problems with its new IT billing system, and has since worked hard to improve its customer service. However, British Gas Business’ implementation did go wrong and it didn’t act quickly enough to put things right.
“Many existing businesses customers were left without accurate bills, causing significant concern. New customers were delayed from switching to the supplier, potentially costing them money by leaving them on a more expensive deal with another supplier.
“Ofgem welcomes suppliers investing in new systems and recognises that this can be challenging. However the £9.5 million payment also sends a strong reminder to all energy companies that they must treat consumers fairly at all times, including while new systems are put in place.”