No delivery from Calor Gas forces pub to close

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

No delivery: Lack of gas at the Chaser inn, Kent (Getty/ B2M Productions)
No delivery: Lack of gas at the Chaser inn, Kent (Getty/ B2M Productions)

Related tags Gas Calor Kent Revenue

A Kent pub was forced to close for a few days after Calor Gas failed to top up gas levels, which the managing director of the pub group has claimed was “not forgivable”.

WH Pubs managing director Brian Keeley-Whiting, said Calor Gas had failed to deliver gas to the countryside venue the Chaser inn, Tonbridge, and had not responded appropriately to the issue.

This came after a repairman, who came to fix a problem with the tank, noticed that it had hardly any gas in it. “We were bemused by this,” said Keeley-Whiting, "so we tried to contact Calor Gas."

He continued: "I have waited two hours on the phone for no one to pick it up. 

“So they're not even dealing with the problem themselves, they’re just ignoring it, and then when you do eventually speak to somebody, he tells me they can't intervene unless you've got less than 10% in your tank. When we get less than 10%. In our tanks, we’re literally on a couple of days worth of gas.”

A gas delivery was promised for the Chaser inn the week before but that never came. “Lo and behold, on Monday (28 February), we ran out of gas”, said Keeley-Whiting. “They claimed they turned up on Sunday, but couldn’t get to the tank as the car park was full. But they didn’t come in and ask us if we could get them to the area.”

Lack of answers

This meant customers and revenue were lost for Monday and Tuesday at the Chaser, before the tank was finally filled up. According to Keeley-Whiting, even cooking a portion of chips was “near enough impossible”, with one of the best-selling dishes – fish and chips – having to come off the menu.

While the staff adapted through using electricity and completely adapting the set-up for the two days, the director was “sure” a lot of customers were lost, because the pub couldn’t provide its normal menu. He said: “We’ve done our best with customers to appease their disappointment. But, we feel through no fault of our own, we’re in this situation.” 

“You get the impression that no one really cares. You can’t get through to somebody, and eventually when someone does answer, they’ve got no answers for you. They can’t say, ‘yes we’re definitely coming to you’", he added.

A Calor Gas spokesperson commented: “We sincerely apologise to any of our customers in the pub and hospitality trades who are concerned about running low or who may have run out of gas. The vast majority of our customers have not been impacted, but for those who have experienced issues, we know this is concerning and this level of service is not what they expect from us, and we are working hard to rectify the situation. 

Blame culture

“We regret that the national shortage of specially trained (hazardous goods) HGV drivers in 2021 and the ongoing pandemic (which has increased demand for LPG) have resulted in a backlog of orders. It also means that customer tanks are running lower than they would normally expect before we are able to deliver to them. 

“Waiting times to answer customers calls are longer than usual, due to their high volume and the impact of Covid isolations on our people. However, we can reassure our customers that we have now recruited our usual level of winter drivers and are continuing to recruit additional drivers to reduce the backlog of orders as quickly as possible and return our level of service to where it should be.”

Keeler-Whiting said he was “sick to death” of the ‘blame culture’ of these kinds of issues. “It seems that, after all that's gone on over the past two years, suddenly now they want to blame drivers.

“They tell me they want to prioritise schools and hospitals and all that stuff. It's an easy cop-out, really. The services have become appalling.”

Keeler-Whiting concluded: “What happened at the Chaser is not forgivable. I can’t be in the same position again with another site.”

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