British Gas pays £1.48m after customers hit with metre change

27 August 2020, 07:26

British Gas has been told to pay money to customers after the change
British Gas has been told to pay money to customers after the change. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

British Gas has paid £1.48 million to customers after it did not tell them they would have to top up their gas and electricity meters through a new provider.

Customers might have had their supply interrupted as a result, or had to go to shops where they could no longer top up their meters. Customers were also unable to get in touch with British Gas's helpline on the day of the change.

The company, which has also agreed to pay £250,000 to Ofgem's energy redress fund, failed to tell around 270,000 prepayment customers of the switch from PayPoint to Payzone.

The move from Paypoint to Payzone, which went live on 1 January 2020, hit more than a quarter of a million pre-payment customers.

But customers were only told about it in December 2019.

"This left insufficient time for customers to switch supplier if they found the new arrangements to be problematic," Ofgem said.

Ofgem retail director Philippa Pickford said: "When such a fundamental change is being made, such as where meters can be topped up, energy suppliers need to communicate with their customers in plenty of time.

"British Gas should have informed all of their prepayment customers, many whom are in vulnerable situations, of the change to how to top up their meters during the winter period.

"Some customers were unaware of the change before it happened and may have struggled to contact British Gas as they opted not to open their general enquiries line on the go-live date. Others were given insufficient time to make alternative arrangements if they were unhappy with the change of top-up provider.

"Ofgem will continue to closely monitor the market to ensure that all customers are protected and treated fairly by their supplier."

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