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Daily Mail

British Gasoline ‘wins Cash Mail’s Picket Spoon award for poor service

At the moment, Cash Mail can reveal the winner of our 2022 Picket Spoon Award for poor customer support is… British Gasoline.

The vitality large scooped virtually a THIRD of the votes in our annual ballot. John Lewis took silver with 13.8 per cent of the votes whereas BT scooped bronze with 13 per cent.

A whole bunch of readers voted, deciding on from a listing of eight nominees introduced at the start of December.

Out of gasoline: Chris O’Shea, boss of British Gasoline father or mother firm Centrica (pictured in a mock-up) refused to gather the trophy

In a yr of hovering vitality payments, you complained about lengthy name wait instances to talk to workers at British Gasoline, inaccurate billing and lacking Authorities help vouchers.

And also you had been infuriated to study that earnings at British Gasoline’s father or mother firm Centrica boomed final yr whereas service ranges fell.

So as to add insult to harm, Centrica boss Chris O’Shea turned down repeated requests from Cash Mail to debate his agency’s woeful service and clarify how he was placing it proper.

He additionally refused to simply accept the trophy in individual — as bosses have historically finished for our Picket Spoon Awards, from the director of HM Income & Customs to the chief executives of main banks and telecoms giants. So we have now been pressured to mock up an image of Mr O’Shea holding it.

We make no apology for this: customer support issues and lots of loyal British Gasoline vitality customers will concern Mr O’Shea’s reluctance to have interaction on the problem means he does not worth it extremely sufficient.

The ignominious award comes a yr after the agency’s Homecare division won the 2021 Wooden Spoon after a deluge of complaints about its boiler servicing cowl.

A yr in the past, Mr O’Shea accepted the award over a Zoom name whereas working from residence.

Mr O’Shea — who has a reported annual wage of £875,000 earlier than bonuses, advantages and shares —says: ‘There is no such thing as a doubt the vitality disaster has created a troublesome setting for our prospects during the last two years.

‘Day by day Mail readers, like all our prospects, are vital to us and we’ll frequently have a look at bettering what we do and the way we do it.

‘I additionally know we make an actual distinction in folks’s lives and we get way more proper than we get unsuitable.’

British Gasoline slammed for name centre queues

Many purchasers stated they voted for British Gasoline as a result of it’s so exhausting to get by to on the cellphone. In some circumstances, wait instances had been properly over an hour.

You stated it will also be troublesome getting straight solutions from British Gasoline workers members if you need to question a invoice or get assist.

Geoffrey Matthews, from Glamorgan, tried quite a few instances to question a invoice by cellphone with out success. ‘I managed to talk to 1 individual having waited virtually an hour. After a couple of minutes I used to be lower off.’ In the long run, he had to go surfing and use a chatbot service.

Contenders: Hundreds of readers voted, selecting from a list of eight nominees announced at the beginning of December

Contenders: A whole bunch of readers voted, deciding on from a listing of eight nominees introduced at the start of December

Mr O’Shea says British Gasoline has confronted big pressures this winter and is working exhausting to reply the cellphone extra swiftly. 

‘Our name volumes have elevated by greater than 50 per cent this winter and we have created 700 extra UK jobs to handle this. Our hardworking colleagues have dealt with 16 million contacts from prospects in 2022.

‘Every of those rightly wants extra time as our prospects are searching for extra assist and recommendation than ever and we need to help them by this cost-of-living disaster.’

Inaccurate vitality payments

One other main gripe was billing accuracy. Margaret Wilson spent hours on the cellphone to British Gasoline after getting an inaccurate invoice.

The 82-year-old, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, noticed her month-to-month invoice almost double, regardless of being in credit score. She was in a position to get her invoice decreased solely after virtually a month of calls.

In November, Cash Mail revealed some prospects had seen direct debits elevated aggressively with little warning. Mr O’Shea says: ‘We glance after and serve over 10 million prospects. 

We do not all the time get issues proper however, as a trusted model, our prospects worth that we’re a sustainable and dependable firm. After we get issues unsuitable, we do all the things we will to repair it.

‘That is why 200,000 prospects have joined us within the final 12 months and why final yr we had been in a position to step in and rescue tons of of hundreds of consumers from 9 vitality suppliers who collapsed.’

In November we revealed some British Gas customers had seen direct debits increased aggressively with little warning

In November we revealed some British Gasoline prospects had seen direct debits elevated aggressively with little warning

Lacking vouchers

For the reason that Vitality Payments Assist Scheme launched in October, Cash Mail has had a gradual move of complaints about delayed vouchers from British Gasoline — or households not receiving them in any respect. 

These are the very important authorities handouts of £66 or £67 a month to assist houses survive the value hikes this winter.

Eleanor Dolan, from Dartford, Kent, says that regardless of quite a few calls, by mid-December she nonetheless hadn’t acquired vouchers for October, November and December. ‘I am at my wits’ finish,’ she says. To date we have now helped 43 readers get a complete of £3,796 after handing British Gasoline a file of circumstances.

Mr O’Shea says: ‘Final yr, in only a matter of weeks, we needed to construct a course of at hand out over £2.3 billion of Authorities cash to virtually six million vitality shoppers over six months.

‘This was a difficult operation, however we have now efficiently delivered properly over 20 million of those funds and our prepayment meter vouchers have seen one of many highest redemption charges within the sector.’

Runner up: John Lewis took second place with 13.8% of the vote. Readers were appalled at how it had made all its credit card customers reapply after it switched providers

Runner up: John Lewis took second place with 13.8% of the vote. Readers had been appalled at the way it had made all its bank card prospects reapply after it switched suppliers 

John Lewis takes silver

Readers had been appalled at how the retail large made all its bank card prospects reapply after it switched credit score suppliers from HSBC to NewDay.

Others say requirements have slipped at its malls.

A John Lewis spokesman says: ‘Final yr, we modified our bank card supplier — a posh, one-off transfer that’s now full. We’re sorry we’ve not acquired it proper each time. We’re working exhausting to supply the absolute best buyer expertise in 2023 and past.’

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