MA helps licensee with shock bills

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British gas, 2006 albums, A good thing

Joseph Browne: licensee was in dispute with British Gas
Joseph Browne: licensee was in dispute with British Gas
British Gas has promised to help a licensee — whose electricity bills increased four-fold — after the Morning Advertiser got involved. Bills at...

British Gas has promised to help a licensee — whose electricity bills increased four-fold — after the Morning Advertiser got involved.

Bills at the Westport Inn, Kentish Town, London, increased to around £1,000 a month in autumn 2008. Unit rates went from 5.21p to 19.41p and standard charges from 8.21p to 33.46p.

It happened after the contract was "rolled-over" — automatically renewed with out negotiation.

British Gas said it told lessee Joseph Browne by letter in April 2008 that a new contract needed to be negotiated, but the host denies this.

His son, Thomas, said it took eight months for the supplier to tell them the contract had been rolled over, despite "numerous" calls to the firm.

Joseph stopped paying his bills in summer 2009, having paid around £10,000 since the previous autumn.

Lower rates of 10.7p/unit (day) and 6.3p (night) were finally offered in August 2009, but only after a broker intervened. Colin Beake of Utility Options said the licensees needed to ask for the tariff to change from "standard" to "evening and weekend" — Thomas questioned why British Gas didn't tell them this.

Thomas said he wrote to British Gas's chief executive, head of complaints and head of account management, but no action was taken until the MA contacted the supplier on his behalf.

A British Gas spokesman said: "We sent four separate contract renewal letters to Mr Browne in 2008 (he rejected this claim) and as no reply was received, the contracts were renewed to reflect the higher energy prices at that time.

"We've apologised to Mr Browne for any concern caused and will be working hard to resolve the situation as quickly as possible."

Thomas said: "We wouldn't have got anywhere without the Morning Advertiser. It's a good thing there's some independent media looking out for licensees."

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