Stephen Foley: Ofgem makes an example of British Gas
Stephen Foley is a former Associate Business Editor of The Independent, based in New York. He left in August 2012. In a decade at the paper, he covered personal finance, the UK stock market and the pharmaceuticals industry, and had also been the Business section's share tipster. Between arriving with three suitcases in Manhattan in January 2006 and his departure, he witnessed and reported on a great economic boom turning spectacularly to bust. In March 2009, he was named Business and Finance Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Thursday 28 July 2011
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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