Ofgem has slapped a £2.5million fine on British Gas for “basic failures” when dealing with complaints. The regulator imposed the penalty after its investigation flagged up that the energy company had breached regulations on how it should handle customers’ problems.
Key areas that Ofgem found lacking included: failure to re-open complaints when the customer felt the case wasn’t sorted; failure to pass on information about the redress service offered by the Energy Ombudsman to customers whose complaint they couldn’t resolve; not putting in place adequate processes and practices for dealing with complaints from micro-businesses.
Sarah Harrison, Ofgem’s Senior Partner for Sustainable Development, said: “Today’s finding highlights basic failures in British Gas’ customer service, particularly in dealing with some of its small business customers, and shows Ofgem’s commitment to use its powers to ensure suppliers treat customers fairly and transparently.”
Ofgem says that the fine is an example of how it is toughening up its stance on the Big Six, especially in light of the market shakeup they announced earlier this year.
Ms Harrison added: “We warned the industry in March that we would be backing up our plans to reform the retail market with a tough approach to enforcement. This £2.5 million fine against British Gas, and the other £10 million of fines imposed on the energy industry so far this year, sends a clear message to energy companies that they must abide by the rules.”
British Gas isn’t the only Big Six energy company to be under the regulator’s microscope. Ofgem is currently investigating npower and EDF Energy for complaint handling; Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy, EDF Energy and npower for misselling; and is undertaking two investigations into Scottish Power for potentially misleading marketing and the difference between its Standard Credit and Direct Debit Tariffs.