I used the British Gas contact form to email to ask for my electricity direct debit to be retained at £38 on Friday.
I received a reply saying why British Gas was recommended that I increase to £76, but noted that the retention at £38 debit was an option.
I replied asking to retain the £38 debit.
The reply from the same customer service rep then rejected my request and stated that the new level was to be implemented at £76.
I then called customer service from a pub round the corner from Old Bond Street on Saturday afternoon, round the corner from where Margaret Thatcher was staying at the Ritz, and spoke to a new rep and asked for the £38 rate, and this was agreed.
I then received an email from confirming the £38 debit on my request. I followed a link asking for my experience of customer service, and included this account and noted that there appeared to be an issue, that the system for fixing direct debits is inconsistently understood by British Gas customer service representatives.just before midnight on Sunday a new email popped into my Inbox.
This one said that now British Gas was fixing the rate at £65. I emailed back a complaint this time and asked for compensation, explained all the previous again, and went to sleep. I awoke to a new email confirming the complaint had been received.
Then Tuesday morning, a new email from customer services to say while they really preferred the £65 direct debit that they would fix my monthly rate at £38, and credited my account with £10! I checked my account page and this was confirmed, though it also included a handy graphic in bright red which showed how much I would be in debit if I consumed at the rate of the previous bill.
Yes, I thought, but I immediately paid the previous debit balance on presentation of the bill. This fact obviously does not register, as it’s not part of the ‘system’, even though you can in theory fix your direct debit at whatever rate you like, this is not taken into account.
Because at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, this is not a customer-centric system, it’s a direct debit system, and it’s set up for British Gas’s benefit, not yours.
PS: A few days later someone from British Gas rang me asking for ‘Roy’. I asked what number, and they gave my mobile number. I said there was no ‘Roy’ on this number. Hey, so I can take a hint. So time to switch back to E.ON who had the good grace to send me a small cheque a couple of months ago.
1. So the good news is I’ve stayed with British Gas, and moved to a cheaper tariff.
2. Plus I believe I know how to avoid the direct debit issue above; when you make a meter reading calculate the cost; if it comes to more than the balance showing in your account, add that cash by a payment to your account.
3. Then enter the meter reading.
4. The system will then show a positive balance.
5. Therefore the system will not generate a change to your direct debit amount.