BRITISH GAS ENERGYSMART, OR NOT SO SMART ?

BRITISH GAS ENERGYSMART, OR NOT SO SMART ?

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                                  BRITISH GAS ENERGYSMART, OR NOT SO SMART ?

To those of you out there who are not British Gas EnergySmart customers I will briefly explain how it "should" work.

Soon after the 20th of each month British Gas will remind the customer to provide a meter reading no later than 12.00am on the 28th of that month in order not to receive an estimated bill.

I personally always take a photograph of my meter readings/meter unit on the morning of the 28th, for my records, and transfer the readings to my online British Gas Account/meter readings and submit them. Soon after I usually receive a confirmation email and within a few days receive my non-estimated bill for what I have used. What could be simpler.

On 1st June 2012 I had to submit a complaint to British Gas for the following reasons :

"Emailed meter reading in before 12.00am on 28th May 2012. Received bill by email on 30/05/2012 for £38.05. Received another bill via email this morning" (1st June 2012) "for £40.39. Why 2 bills and which is right. Asked on twitter this morning but nobody answered. Useless.", unquote.

In reply to my complaint I received the following somewhat downgraded "Thanks for your enquiry" email on 6th June 2012, from a Ms Burt on behalf of British Gas. The following is part of her reply :

"It appears that we needed to amend the meter reading we used to send the initial bill. The next one which shows an outstanding balance of £40.39 is correct. I note that there is no payment scheme arranged for you. It may benefit you to arrange a direct debit, which is our most convenient way to pay"., unquote.

In my reply of 7th June 2012 I stated " With regard to the two bills you do not explain why you needed to amend the meter reading used to send the initial bill. Was it due to an increase, a hidden charge, the cost of updating my account, or just another mistake ?

I submitted my meter readings before 12.00am 0n 28th May 2012 and you had two days to get the bill right before sending out the bill for £38.05 on 30th May 2012. You then sent me another bill which I received on 1st June 2012 for £40.39 without explanation.

The information currently declared on your website that the "Actual read" was on "29 May 2012" is factually incorrect, knowingly untrue and misleading. By email dated 28th May 2012 you confirmed receipt of my meter reading at 11.33 that morning.

With regard to me setting up a Direct Debit, the most convenient way for you to take money out of my bank account regardless of whether or not future bills will be accurate, subject to change, alteration or increase, no chance Ms Burt.

With regard to you closing the file because you feel you have resolved the "enquiry", I would remind you that I made a "complaint" and that it is not for you to feel happy about closing anything until first satisfying yourself the customer is happy. I really am not happy Ms Burt.", unquote.

In her reply of 8th June 2012 on behalf of British Gas Ms Burt explained that :

"The reason you received two bills are as follows :

                                    * You have selected to be on EnergySmart, which
                                       means monthly billing based on readings you
                                       provide.

                                     * The reminder to provide a reading was sent to you
                                        on 21 May 2012.

                                     * The date your bill is produced is the 28th of every
                                        month.

                                     * Your reading was received on 29 May 2012 this
                                        means an estimate was already in place, because
                                        the reading was received a day late.

                                     * The bill based on our estimate was produced 
                                        overnight and sent to you.

                                     * When we received your reading we amended the bill
                                        and sent this copy to you.

                                     * This is why you received two bills.", unquote.

The aforementioned somewhat patronizing part of Ms Burt's reply on behalf of British Gas is that it 'again' disregards the fact British Gas sent me an email confirmation at 11.33am on the morning of 28th May 2012, acknowledging the actual day and night meter readings in question. That the "Actual read on : 29 May 2012" declared on it's website is knowingly false and untrue.

The most disturbing part of the reply by British Gas is it lacks any form of professionalism, common sense and honesty.

Having previously advised British Gas I will take the matter up with Ofgem, and would also consider a blog on my website as a matter of public awareness, this is the blog. I will forward a copy of this blog to Ofgem and will also provide Ofgem with a copy of the email confirmation in question should it have need of it. I will also forward a copy of this blog to the BBC Watchdog programme as it may have had similar complaints.

The goodwill gesture of an eco kettle by British Gas for the time and distress this matter has caused me will be donated to charity, should it arrive.

I will update this blog as more information becomes available and will not be wasting anymore of my valuable time with British Gas on this issue. I will pay the amount of £40.39 "under protest" so as not to put myself in the wrong.

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Contacted the Ombudsman Services : Energy, on 11th June 2012. Supplied a copy of the above blog.

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Payed the amount of £40.39 to British Gas 'Under Protest' on 12th June 2012.

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Received "back dated " letter dated 7 June 2012, letter received 12th June 2012, from British Gas reassuring me they take all complaints very seriously and mine is currently being investigated. Said they would keep me fully informed of it's progress and would be in contact within the next 7 days. Letter signed by a Andy Eley, Head of Complaints. Received NO contact within 7 days.

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Received letter from the Ombudsman Services : Energy, on 15th June 2012, advising me to follow the British Gas Complaints Code of Practice, and what to do if I remain unhappy and the complaint has not been sorted.

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Checked the meter reading on the British Gas website today, 21st June 2012, and it still wrongly states the "Actual read on : 29 May 2012". I will attempt to upload a copy of the email British Gas sent me on 28 May 2012 at 11:33, thanking me for the meter reading. I find it unforgivable that British Gas still refuses to correct this inaccurate and misleading information which serves only to cast doubt on my account. This is not rocket science. British Gas need only check the email it sent me on 28th May 2012, at 11 : 33 in the morning.

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Received a reminder on 22nd June 2012 to send meter readings in before 12.00am on the 28th June 2012. Took a photo and entered the new meter readings before 10.00am on 28th June 2012. Disgusted to see "Actual read on : 29 May 2012" still recorded so also submitted a new complaint, as follows (cut & pasted) :

"This is not an enquiry but a complaint. Having just entered my electric meter readings I think it unforgivable and personally insulting that you still knowingly and wrongly indicate that the "Actual read on : 29 May 2012" had not been changed to 28 May 2012 which, based on my information and your own, was when the actual reading was done and which was submitted, as confirmed by you, before 12.00am on the 28th May 2012. In terms of transparency this is extremely dishonest of you, and in terms of your on going investigation I see little hope when you cannot even get the basics right. Geoff McLaughlin".

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 Received an email from Ms Burt on 29th June 2012, asking me nonsensically to accept liability for not changing their incorrect input date of 29th May 2012. Requested I reply before 13th July 2012, or she would close the complaint.

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Sent Ms Burt the following on 4th July 2012 :

Dear Ms Burt. Thank you for your email of 29th June 2012. I am sorry to hear you have been unwell and not in the office. Mr Andy Eley, Head of Complaints, has been dealing with this complaint since 7th June 2012. Unfortunately Mr Eley has failed to address or resolve my complaints and, as a consequence, a formal complaint to the Energy Ombudsman looks likely after British Gas has exhausted it's Complaints Code of Practice within the 8 week period. Yours sincerely G R McLaughlin.

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26th July 2012 : In view of the length of time and opportunities British Gas has had to address and answer my complaint, and because Mr Andy Eley, Head of Complaints has himself personally distanced himself from the complaint, I feel it reasonable to suggest British Gas may have involved itself in Fraud and Deception. I will withdraw this claim if I receive written assurances from British Gas that it did not send out double bills, the second being for a greater amount, to any other customers. Once the Energy Ombudsman has dealt with the matter I will consider filing my complaint with the police.

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Received an unsigned email on 12th November 2012, from Ombudsman Services/Energy, of Warrington, advising me it will not be investigating my complaint.

In reply a blog will follow outlining all the unresolved areas and criminal activity which the Ombudsman considered a "minor shortfall in customer service". One example being that Andy Eley, Head of Complaints" with British Gas began using the correct Customer Reference Number then began using a completely different Customer Reference Number when the complaint became more critical and detailed, this, according to the Ombudsman was "minor" and of no importance, howevermuch it enabled Mr Eley a way around not having to deal with the complaint himself.

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