Challenge to legality of gas bill discounts
Thursday 05 January 1995
British Gas increased prices from this week by £10 a year for a typical customer but said that people paying by monthly direct debit will be given a discount of £19, leaving them £9 better off even after the price rise. The move has angered many customers, including pensioners and the less well-off, many of whom pay promptly but are unable to do so by direct debit.
In today's edition of Which? the Consumers' Association says: "In the run-up to the introduction of competition, the law is supposed to prevent British Gas from `cherry picking' - unfairly keeping the best customers by offering them a special deal.
"This discount arguably breaches the Gas Act, and we've called on Ofgas to investigate. It also penalises those customers who choose to pay on time by other methods."
The attack is a further blow to British Gas, which has been struggling to restore its image since November when it confirmed a 75 per cent increase in the total pay of Cedric Brown, its chief executive. It has since emerged that the company is to stop bill payment at showrooms, will cut some staff salaries and is sharply reducing part of the budget for safety in the pipeline.
A spokeswoman for British Gas said: "We have carefully considered the legality of the discounts but believe it is not discriminatory." She said the company hopes later this year to introduce discounts for people who pay on time by means other than monthly direct debit.
Ofgas, which is keen to see fair play for all prompt payers, said that it is discussing the issue with British Gas.
The Consumers' Association is also asking why the savings offered to monthly direct debit customers is so large, pointing out that BT offers a discount of £4 per year to such customers and that electricity firms allow £3 to £5.
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned
Peaches Geldof: Her final day – and her fatal decision
Chief Ebola doctor in Sierra Leone has contracted the deadly disease himself
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israel may have committed war crimes, says UN human rights chief
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
iJobs Money & Business
£20,000 - £22,000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Property Management Grou...
£400 - £420 per day: Orgtel: IT Transition Manager - Banking - Scotland - £400...
£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Banking, Financial Reporting, ...
£375 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...