British Gas told to pay licensees £2k

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British gas, Money

British Gas: ombudsman ordered payments
British Gas: ombudsman ordered payments
British Gas Business has been ordered to pay a £2,000 "goodwill" payment to licensees who received a "service shortfall" over several years.

The national Energy Ombudsman has ordered British Gas Business to pay a £2,000 "goodwill" payment to licensees who received a "service shortfall" over several years.

Hosts Susanne and Eric Hobbs went to the Ombudsman after reaching deadlock with the supplier in March this year.

The Ombudsman's report, seen by the Morning Advertiser, says problems related to the fact that too many electricity meters had been installed at the Fox & Badger in Wellow, Bath.

These found that usage had been "severely underestimated" between April 2005 and October 2006, which led British Gas to send a "catch up" bill of £2,459 in November 2006.

The balance had swelled to £7,086 when British Gas exchanged the meter in November 2007. It currently stands at more than £10,000, according to Susanne Hobbs.

The Ombudsman also said British Gas Business "incorrectly" refunded £3,549 in 2005, prior to billing the usage using accurate readings.

Another "error" was setting up a fixed rate rather than a monthly direct-debit agreement.

As well as the £2,000 "goodwill payment", the Ombudsman recommended British Gas contact the licensees to discuss payment and send an apology letter "in recognition of any service shortfalls experienced".

However, the Ombudsman conceded the licensees did owe the money because there is "no evidence" they queried the type of meter before November 2008, when they asked for a single-rate meter to be fitted.

But Hobbs told the MA she has appealed to the Ombudsman again, saying she wrote to British Gas in 2002 querying the high rates when she was considering changing supplier.

"My argument is that we are licensees, not energy experts; we chose British Gas to supply our electricity and trusted them to supply what we needed," she said.

"With all the confusion of the accruing credits and numbers of 'live' meters at the property, the real problem of the excessive supply was masked by their incompetence."

For more on the Ombudsman scheme, visit www.energy-ombudsman.org.uk.

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