Investigation into British Gas Trading Limited and its compliance with SLC 7A, 7B, 14, 14A and 21B and with the Consumer Complaints Handling Standards Regulations 2008

Opened:
Oct 2015
Decision Proposed:
Jan 2017
Closed:
Jun 2017

The Gas and Electricity Markets Authority ("the Authority") has confirmed its decision to impose a financial penalty on British Gas Trading Limited ("British Gas") following an investigation by Ofgem into its failure to comply with requirements under conditions 7A, 7B, 14A and 21B of its gas and electricity supply licenses and Regulations 3(2), 7(1)(a) and 7(1)(b) of the Gas and Electricity (Consumer Complaints Handling Standards) Regulations 2008 (CHRs).

  • Conditions 7A, 14A and 21B contain safeguards relating to supply to micro business consumers, as well as obligations on (non-domestic) customer transfers and billing.
  • Condition 7B (Standards of Conduct) requires suppliers to take all reasonable steps to achieve the Standards of Conduct (SOC), and to ensure they interpret and apply the SOC in a manner consistent with the Customer Objective of ensuring that each micro-business customer is treated fairly.
  • CHR 3(2) sets out provisions relating to the duty upon a supplier to comply with its own complaints handling procedure in relation to each consumer complaint it receives.
  • CHR 7(1)(a) sets out the duty upon a supplier to receive, handle and process consumer complaints in an efficient and timely manner.
  • CHR 7(1)(b) sets out the duty upon a supplier to allocate and maintain sufficient resources for the efficient and timely handling of complaints and to enable the supplier’s other obligations under the CHRs to be met.

The Authority considered it appropriate to impose a penalty for these contraventions. The penalty of £1 takes into account the fact that British Gas agreed to settle the investigation and to make consumer redress payments of £9.5 million (minus £1). British Gas will make consumer redress payments both to micro-business customers directly affected by its failings, and to the Money Advice Trust (which provides the Business Debtline service). The redress payments to Business Debtline will be used to provide debt advice services to business customers who are experiencing difficulties in paying their energy bills.

Further details can be found in the final Penalty Notice.