Stephen Foley: Ofgem makes an example of British Gas

 

Outlook Ofgem's latest £2.5m fine on British Gas, over failures in its customer complaints procedure, is "totally disproportionate", the company said yesterday. Too right it is. It should have been higher.

The fine, barely a day's profits, comes after the energy regulator found British Gas failed to reopen customers' complaints when they felt they had not been resolved, and didn't tell them they could appeal to the Energy Ombudsman when things reached an impasse.

The fine, though, is meant as a warning to other firms. Treating consumers with disdain is still too often par for the course at British Gas, but the fact that many of the offences relate to small business customers makes it all the more important to make an example. When even bigger-spending business customers cannot get fair treatment, what hope is there for the rest of us?

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