Investigation into British Gas' compliance with the Gas and Electricity (Consumer Complaints Handling Standards) Regulations 2008

Opened:
Jun 2010
Decision Proposed:
Jul 2011
Closed:
Jan 2012
Company:
British Gas
Regulation Area:
Sectoral Regulations
Breach Area:
Customer service

The Gas and Electricity Markets Authority ("the Authority") has confirmed its decision to impose a financial penalty on British Gas (BG) for its failure to comply with the Gas and Electricity (Consumer Complaints Handling Standards) Regulations 2008.

Ofgem’s investigation focussed on British Gas’ compliance with the CHSR which came into force on 1 October 2008. The Authority found that British Gas had breached regulations 4, 6 and 7 of the CHSR. Regulation 4 sets out the obligations of a regulated provider to record a complaint upon its receipt and record details of subsequent contact about the complaints. Regulation 6 provides that a regulated provider must signpost consumers to the redress scheme, and provide them with specific information about the redress scheme, if complaints cannot be resolved within a specific timeframe. Regulation 7 requires that a regulated provider must allocate and maintain adequate resources in order to receive, handle and process complaints in an efficient and timely manner.

The Authority found that:

• From 1 October 2008, in relation to domestic and micro-business customers, British Gas was in breach of regulation 4 in that it would not reopen a closed complaint after a period of 28 days. British Gas had provided Ofgem with details of the steps it intended to take to remedy the breach including the retraining of staff, system changes and the hiring of additional staff. Ofgem considered that these steps were appropriate in the circumstances in order to secure compliance. British Gas had informed Ofgem that the changes would not be completed until the end of July 2011. Therefore British Gas continued to be in breach of regulation 4(6)(a) and (d) until this date.

• Between 1 October 2008 and 5 April 2011 in relation to domestic and micro- business customers, British Gas failed to provide all the required information about the Energy Ombudsman redress scheme in its 8-week letter to both its domestic and micro-business customers and its micro-business deadlock letter. This was a breach of regulation 6(2)(d) and (e).

• Between 1 October 2008 and 9 February 2011 in relation to micro-business customers, British Gas failed to allocate and maintain adequate resources for micro-business customers in order to receive, handle and process complaints in an efficient and timely manner. This was a breach of regulation 7(1).

The Authority considered it appropriate to impose a financial penalty for these contraventions. The Authority decided to impose a financial penalty of £2.5 million on BG.

Further details can be found in the final penalty notice.