I do sincerely hope that no one has to suffer the utter grief that British Gas has caused me and my family.
Before i go any further, my complaint to the Energy Ombudsman has been upheld, i have a formal apology from the company, so there can be no doubt when it comes to the wrong doing highlighted herein.
So, what happened? Well i work from home quite a fair bit, i often have conference calls from home with Counsel, and i am very very conscious about client confidentiality. Anyway, in mid august there was a knock at the front door. I answered the door to a man from British Gas or more to the point G4S. I was politely asked if i would let him read my meter.
Now then, i have a quarterly bill for my Gas, the meter is outside so no need to come in, the electric meter is inside, in my living room, in fact its in a cupboard (the only storage in the house) and whats worst, the door is built for a midget. Anyone who knows me will know im 6’4″ tall and this door frame is 2’6″ high. Add to that the fact that the meter is on the back wall, in the opposite corner to the door, you can see how difficult it is to get to the meter to even top it up.
Hence why i put the electric on monthly. Anyway, i explained i was working, i explained that this visit was out of the blue, i explained the difficulties with the cupboard and the fact id have to spend an hour moving everything out, and advised that it really wasnt helpful at this stage to be faffing around with the meter, so could they come back later. I also pointed out that i had a conference call with Counsel ongoing and it really wasnt convenient. To my surprise, i was advised i was refusing entry and that British Gas would go and apply for a Warrant to force entry.
I once again explained i was not refusing entry and if they would like i would happily make an appointment with them to come back at an appropriate time so they could “read the meter”
I was told in no uncertain terms that i was “refusing” and thus a warrant was the way they were going.
At that point my sense of humour failed. I made it clear what i did for a living, that what i had just been told was the biggest load of toss going, hell even my landlord doesnt have the right to turn up unannounced and demand access. To do so would …….well …………..breach the covenant of quite enjoyment for starters.
I tore this chap apart, literally he had no answer, he went away with tail well and truly between his legs. So all over ………..or so i thought.
So about three months later, the vagrant arrived. I opened the door and this thing, i cannot describe it other than Compo from Last of the Summer Wine. Anyway, “yeah” i said. “im here to read your meter” it uttered.
Hell no you aint i thought. So i asked who he was and where he was from, and crucially why he needed to read a meter when the research i had done suggested that the meter didnt need reading. ” youre refusing to let me read your meter”? yes i said, and went through the same blurb as last time. However this time my son was home, he heard the chap say that he would be back with the bailiffs and would force entry. This time however we had the added bonus of ” if you obstruct us we will have you arrested” or words to that effect.
My lad was distraught, and that really got my back up. So complaint time.
I rang British Gas, firstly, i lodged a complaint about the way they had carried out these meter readings or the attempts to do so. I also lodged a complaint over the abandoned calls that had taken place, as British Gas had called my home and then when the call was answered it got cut off.
I was told that British Gas would investigate. I was told they would revert back to me to update me, to be honest there’s more truth in the statement ” im going to win the lottery next week” than there was in British Gas.
So, on around 21st November 2016 i called British Gas to get an “update” on my complaint. I was told that my complaint had been resolved!!. Now that was a good reply, but sadly, since i wasn’t psychic , unless they tell me by say writing, or calling me, there was simply no way i could have known what their findings were.
Anyway, fast-forwarding, i decided that frankly British Gas had as much chance of resolving my complaint as i had of becoming king of England. So i lodged a complaint with the Energy Ombudsman. I recommend this course of action to anyone with an issue with an energy supplier.
I was contacted by Sara Ransom at British Gas Ombudsman complaints team, Sara was without question the most professional person i dealt with at British Gas. Sara tried to resolve my issues, she understood the issues we had, she even pointed out that the meter didnt need reading, it was a visual inspection that was needed, and that this could be done by appointment.
Sara arranged a visit from G4S for the 10th December 2016, i emptied the cupboard in readiness, i waiting in ALL FRIGGIN Day, and no one turned up. So on the phone with British Gas, vented my anger at the poor guy, and reported it to the Ombudsman on the following Monday.
Apparently, according to G4S they couldnt find my house. With respect, Stevie Wonder could find my house and hes blind FFS. In fact, Sarah went on Google maps and found my house within seconds.
However G4S, you had my email address, you had my phone number, you could have called me or emailed but you instead chose the tossers way out. Thanks.
So, anyway, before Christmas Sara promised me that we wouldnt have any more visits until she had arranged an appointment, shame G4S decided to ignore this as on 6th January 2017 i returned home from work only to find out G4S have been back playing “lets harass the consumer”. Believe me, i made my position very clear at this point, there was lots of case law quoted at them such as Ferguson v British Gas, Roberts v Bank of Scotland et al, a detailed explanation of the Tort of Harassment was given and it seemed to do the trick.
The Ombudsman reviewed my complaint and upheld it in full. I quote direct from the ruling.
You say that the representative from G4S told you that British Gas would obtain a warrant, as it says you were refusing access. This was incorrect and misleading. The representative was unware the request from British Gas was to inspect the meter, rather than obtain a reading. This is a shortfall in customer service.
Your second issue concerns the failed appointment to inspect your meter.
G4S failed to attend the arranged appointment, to inspect your electricity prepayment meter, on 10 December 2016. This is a shortfall in customer service.
Following my investigation of your complaint, my decision requires British Gas to:
• offer a further pre-arranged appointment to inspect your electricity pre-payment meter;
• issue a GSS payment of £30 for the missed appointment dated 10 December 2016 and a further GSS payment of £30 for the late payment;
• issue a cheque of £30, as a gesture of goodwill for the time and trouble caused; and
• provide a written apology for the upset and inconvenience.