British Gas - 'Trouble Paying?... How to help you' - Yeah, right

olibrofiz Posts: 821 Forumite
A little rant - BG

I had to have my heating on during the day in Feb/Mar, and so my quarterly bill was higher than normal - £254, add to that my leccie bill - £125. So I contacted them after I got the red bill (yes I do a great ostrich impression) and said

'I''m ringing you as I'm having trouble paying my bill, I can't pay the £379 all in one go, can I pay £200 now, and the rest in one month's time'

Reply - 'No, you're a month late in making payment you need to pay it all now, have you got a credit card you can put it on, or do you have a friend you can borrow the money from' :eek::eek::eek::mad:

So I said 'So the bit in your letter saying '...we can discuss how to help you' is absolute rubbish then' No reply.

I am sick to death of British Gas. When I bought my house two years ago there was an electric meter, and the gas was off. I rang to sort this out and was told I wasn't an emergency as I was a new customer, I pointed out I had been with them for 5 years - 'yes, but this is a new address so you're a new customer and you're not a priority'. An appointment was made for an afternoon visit, and the BG guys turned up in the morning, twice.

When I arranged the third visit, and complained about the previous two plus the fact I'd been without G&E for two weeks I was told 'well you shouldn't have moved into a house with no gas & electricity if you have a small child' :eek::eek::eek:

I begrudge paying towards the wages of their rude staff and will switch at the earliest opportunity. I feel better now :D


  • KimYeovil
    KimYeovil Posts: 6,156 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
    This is the middle of April. You had the heating on for longer in February and March. What was so different about then and now? Instead of two installments in April and May why did you not put the installments aside February through April? :confused: That would have given you one extra month to spread things over.
  • Fire_Fox
    Fire_Fox Posts: 26,026 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    Why did you have to have the heating on during the day during March? It's been mild since mid February, an extra sweater would have done the same job.

    You didn't set money aside for this bill, and you didn't attempt to pay any of it in a timely manner, so BG want payment in full for energy you have already used. There will be a payment due date on the bill - that also applies to them helping you out to spread payments.

    The problems when you moved in will, presumably, have been dealt with by you making a written complaint and getting compensation at the time?
    Declutterbug-in-progress.⭐️⭐️⭐️ ⭐️⭐️
  • Pink_fluff
    Pink_fluff Posts: 490 Forumite
    You couldn't go to tesco's and take your shopping away without paying....So why do you expect this to be different?
  • itzmee
    itzmee Posts: 401 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary
    Can't you go onto direct debit and spread the cost?
  • daveyjp
    daveyjp Posts: 12,603 Forumite
    First Post Name Dropper First Anniversary
    Forget the issue over the debt. The OP has a valid point.

    All bills say get in touch if you can't pay. As soon as someone does there is no substance behind the offer of help, even when the OP offers to repay.

    I'd be annoyed too.

    OP call back, speak to someone else and ask what the help is. They are saying they can help so you need to speak to someone who can actually do this, not some automaton reading from a script who just wants rid of your call.
  • ventjoran
    Hi all,

    first of, let me say I sympathise with Olibrfiz and also that I find it surprising that s/he is being told - from a user in a forum where you'd expect supportive and helpful messages - that if you have not saved enough to pay your bill dah de dah... direct debit terah derah....

    Having had the pleasure myself of British Gas increasing my direct debit from 25 to 170 pounds a month (without warning letters or wotever!) and having to fight for over three months for them to actually stop their harrassment, I decided I would be better off paying my quarterly bill, as and when.

    Last year, my winter bill was estimated WAY OUT, when I called to say I can make part payment and will give you actual reading please adjust bill accrodingly I was treated to a lecture by someone who, apparently was a debt collector, and told me I should cut down on spending at the pub etc (little did he know that, thankfully, I do not drink or smoke!) I complained and received zilch apology. Now, for those of you who are perfect and have no worry in the world and take care of everything always on time and read meters every morning on waking and every night before bed and feel that it is justified for a company like BG to tell people to get two jumpers on and shut up.... let me tell you the following

    This year, I was prepared. Knowing the winter bill HAD to be higher - between price rises and winter cold - I was prepared to pay up to £300 (I think this is still an amazing amount for someone who works full time, including over bank holidays - Xmas etc...- and has a second job two nights a week teaching so does not use gas for heating more than 2 1/2 days per week AT MOST!!!)
    My bill arrived and was for £421!!! So I too called the number meant to 'help' those who are having problems paying - I wanted to pay a certain amount now and the rest next pay day. The girl who responded a) threatened me with debt collectors coming to my house to take my property and b) urged me to go borrow from friends and family if I could not give HER £250 by phone right away. My trying to tell her I could give her this amount on the Friday when I got paid was to no avail as she insisted she 'wasn't making any deals unless I gave HER £250 now".

    I put in a complaint last friday but tonight just had a call from another over zealous Bushma requetiing I paid ££421 immediately; when I told her I had a complaint and had paid £250 today, she started telling me that the computer had told her to call me. I said I had acted on advice from Consumer Direct and made a complaint and requested that my account be put on hold until complaint investigated. Furthermore, the actual reading I gave them in Feb had not even been taken into account!

    British Gas are using bully tactics of loan sharks. They hide behind computers and automatically generated calls knowing full well they have just lost one case of harassment to someone who took them to court.

    Imagine what this can do to anyone who is vulnerable, an old lady; a single mum making ends meet... I swear, instead of telling people they should save to pay their bills or give them some stupid advice like that of some of the respondents, you should all look at what is happening to you, to us, here, being told off for over inflated energy prices, for NO REASON! and fight back

    As long as British GAs, the Banks etc.... know that they have their dogsbody ready to tell those of us, honest, hardworking but struggling to make ends meet, to pay our bills or else... they don't have to have a worry in the world

    Just remember, today it is us and tomorrow it is VERY LIKELY to be YOU!!!
  • Magentasue
    Magentasue Posts: 4,229 Forumite
    ventjoran: Being prepared means reading your meters and doing some maths. Especially with recent price hikes and the cold weather this year. I've become a bit obsessive about reading my meters but it has meant that our monthly DD has continued to cover the bills. I can see smart meters being an advantage here - we'll all be able to see what we're using/need to pay for at all times.

    I think energy companies are a lot less flexible than they used to be - I know a couple of people who have been coerced into having prepayment meters because they couldn't pay up in the time given. Sign of the times, I think.
  • tripled
    tripled Posts: 2,879 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    BG don't accept a 'promise to pay' - unless you have an agreed payment plan, then the bill is due on receipt.

    There is a way around this though - if you call within 28 days you can request a payment card. The minimum payment will be set to an amount which will cover the arrears and energy usage spread over 12 months, however once you have made your two payments to clear the balance ring back and cancel it. Be prepared when you do this though that they may ask for a meter reading and bill you up to date.

    The 'help' is basically you have to ring within 28 days and set up a payment plan. Over 28 days, or if you have previously broken payment plans (failed to pay the installments, rather than cancel) then they will likely refuse to set one up.
  • olibrofiz
    olibrofiz Posts: 821 Forumite
    Thanks for the advise on how I should budget for my bills, and for pointing out that I shouldn't have had my heating on in Feb/Mar as it was mild - it was actually snowing up to mid Feb in mid England and was certainly NOT mild. And I have my reasons for needing to keep the heating on, they are not the issue here.

    It was about the 'Trouble paying? to help you' and the response I got from the call centre worker '...can you not borrow the money off a friend or family member'. Plus the threat of a debt collector coming round to seize goods to the value of the outstanding amount, that I think is absolutely APPALLING.

    I have a short term cash flow problem, and have fortunately been able to scrape money together - however I'm pretty certain that many, many people are in financial difficulties in this economic climate and can't just whack it on a credit card or extend their overdraft etc, etc.

    Thanks to British Gas - the loan sharks will be rubbing their hands together with glee. And before anyone says that BG are NOT advising people to go to loan sharks, if they have nowhere else to get money from that may be their only option.

    Anyways, I rang yesterday and paid off the lot and said how disgusted I was that British Gas could advise their staff to suggest to people they borrow the money off a family friend etc and she said that they only said what British Gas had advised them to say :eek::eek::eek:

    I then spoke to another department to find out the penalties on my tariff for leaving before it ended (they had me on the wrong one, what a surprise) - I told the lady I was talking to about the above and she said that was really bad and I should complain.
  • ventjoran
    ventjoran Posts: 7 Forumite
    An update to my previous post - and a bit of advice to all those of you who are still with British Gas... run!!!! switch!!!

    A month after my complaint, other than a simple acknowledgement number, I have had no calls, no letters, no explanations, no nothing... I called a couple of times wanting to knwo what was happening; on both occasion told I would be called back. No one did.

    A few days ago, I had a letter threatening me with court and telling me I owed £421 - despite my paying £250 in April. My complaint had requested they also adjust my meter reading to a reading I had taken, but this was not done on the bill! Not only did I have the letter, but within ten minutes of being home, my phone rang and it was British Gas calling to tell me I owed them money... I was mad... After a brief conversation the guy on the phone finally realised I had paid £250 and decided to work out the remainder of my bill - £45!!!

    I paid there and then but decided to pursue the complaint and go to Stage 2 - and I found out from the guy I spoke to (who was unusually pleasant and helpful and sounded genuinely appalled at what had been happening) that a) my £421 bill actually included £191 of the November to February bill (paid in full in January), that 'there was something on my account which prevented them from updating my estimated readings to actual readings!!! (Anyone knows what BS that can be?) and that I had been charged £14 fine for a call from their call centre - when in fact I was the one who called them!!! This has now been refunded in the end and the guy apologised...

    However, I will be switching providers this week, as British Gas has now proved to me that they are completely incompetent and unconcerned. I would not recommend DD with them as this seriously messed me up two years ago!

    So there, you can always read your meter, give it to them, save enough to pay them what you owe them - but still, be careful that they apparently still try to thieve by making you pay again for bills you have already paid!!!

    Leave British Gas! And complain for a better quality of customer service!!!
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