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This may be quite long, complicated and involved but my experience may be worth reading, it could save you a lot of money and much heartache.
Despite being one of the biggest British companies, I have found British Gas (hereafter called BG) to be the most despicable companies I have ever had dealings with. I no longer use them and after direct dealings with BG I insist my meters are all card meters to prevent getting unwanted bills. Here is why.
Last year my wife, our three kids and me moved into a small three bed roomed upper floor flat. On the day we moved on a salesman from BG called and I invited him in to discuss using them for duel fuel, it seemed like a good chance to get it sorted quickly while we had the guy right there.
We signed all the forms and he went away.
A couple of days later BG called to say they were the existing supplier to the flat anyway.
We waited for a few months but there was no bill from BG despite a bill arriving in the previous tenant’s name, which we returned unopened to BG. We called several times and requested a bill but heard nothing.
Finally BG sent a letter to ‘The Occupier’ which we opened to find a bill for £2225. We laughed at this ridiculous amount and called BG to explain the problem and to let them know we had only lived in the flat for five months. The person on the phone took all of our details and said not to worry he would sort it.
I couple of days letter came on our name and it was asking US for the £2225, they had switched the bill from the previous tenant’s name to ours – they had switched the FULL bill.
We called again to explain but the flustered young man had problems finding our account on his system and then announced that his computer had ‘frozen’ and he would call us back when it was working (a tactic we were to discover BG call centre staff use when they get a difficult call from us). Of course he did not call back.
After getting no joy from the call centre (it seems they employ chimpanzees who have no idea about their jobs or customer service) we decided to send a letter stating our case.
All we wanted was a bill for the five months we had lived there (we had given them meter readings the day we moved in, in fact the salesman from BG did it too). We were happy to pay for the gas we had used but not for the people living there before us. How can anyone believe that over £2000 is an acceptable bill for five or six months? We even sent them copies of BG bills we had received from our old house only months earlier and which were all paid in full and on time because we were BG customers at our old home. Surely they must have this on record somewhere!!!
We got no reply from our letter and tried the call centre again – after a heated telephone exchange with a rather rude young man who explained that we were liable for the entire bill because we had been ‘enjoying’ the gas since we moved in at which point I asked him to explain how a tiny flat with only a gas fire, gas cooker and gas water heater can give us £2225 worth of gas in six months in the middle of summer, guess what – his computer froze and he ended the call. Before ending the call he said not to worry it was clearly a mistake and to leave it to him, we would get an amended bill within a week.
The next day I received a phone call at work from my crying wife. She had gone to collect our two eldest boys from nursery and primary school and found a red slip in the hall carpet upon her return. It stated that a BG representative had called to cut us off but could not gain access, he would return with the police to enter the house by force if required.
I rushed home and we called BG. They would not answer our questions nor go into any of our communications since the start of the whole mess. He ended the call by saying that the representative would return the next day if we still refused to pay the bill and offered us an instalment plan for the payments. We refused because the £2000+ bill was not for gas we had used.
I took the day off work the next day and we awaited the gas man’s call. Finally he came and my wife answered the door to which the Gas man said, “Mrs. X?” using the previous tenant’s name. My wife said no and again tried to explain the situation.
The BG guy said that he HAD to cut us off unless we agreed to the payment plan they had offered for the outstanding bill. I then said at this point to go ahead and cut us off and I asked him not to make too much noise as we have a three week old baby asleep in the bedroom (which was true). The guy was very embarrassed but said he had to do it. And there you have it, he left the flat with our meter in his hands. It was now November and we had three little boys aged 5, 3 and three weeks old and no gas for cooking, heating or hot water. All because of a huge bill run up by a previous tenant and BG’s incompetent staff.
Luckily we had arranged to move house a few days earlier and were moving out the next day to another house using another power supplier. If this had not been the case we would have had to seek legal advise.
In Conclusion Due to British Gas and their lack of any communications between us and between their own staff our family (including a new baby) was cut off for standing up for our rights not to pay someone else’s gas bill of £2225+ after living in a flat for only a few months.
BG never cleared up whom the bill was for but because we refused to pay someone else’s bill we were held responsible. Because we were the only people chasing after them to keep communications going they decided we could pay the bill.
This is why I would NEVER use British Gas again and when people say that BG would never cut a family off this is rubbish – it happened to us and it wasn’t even our debt and we tried to everything properly by letting them know of their mistakes.
British Gas need to rethink their policies and their call centre staff need some serious retraining because the answer you get depends upon who takes your call and every one of them we spoke to were lazy, liars and totally incompetent. All we wanted to do was pay for what we owed, yet it was we doing all the chasing trying to get it resolved while BG was just interested in the full amount.
I welcome your opinions or questions on this complex issue. :O)
In my opinion; BRITISH GAS IS A DISGUSTING COMPANY WHO DO NOT DESERVE YOUR MONEY!!!!!!!
Very well written and I agree totally with this review. A great review of BG!
callancool 03.02.2006 02:48
Wow! BG seem OK with me!
allyb2003 21.02.2005 15:13
Do you know I totally agree with you. We had a similar problem (which at the moment is still ongoing) with changing a meter back in November from a card meter to a normal meter and the aggravation we had was unbelievable. We are still getting bills for the previous tenants and we had a bill the other day for someone we'd never even heard of! We rent out house so we have to stay with British Gas, but if I could I'd change tomorrow. Excellent review!