Complaints about gas firms up 80%

THE number of complaints against independent gas suppliers rose by 80 per cent last year as more of the domestic market was thrown open to competition, according to figures released today.

The annual report of the Gas Consumers Council shows that complaints against independent suppliers rose from about 4,500 in 1996 to just over 8,000 in 1997. However, the overall level of consumer complaints dropped by 30 per cent to 53,637 as British Gas saw a near 40 per cent reduction - in 1996 the number of complaints against British Gas taken up by the GCC was just over 51,000 but the figure fell to just over 36,000 in 1997.

The bulk of the complaints, against both British Gas and independent suppliers, continued to concern disputes over the amount of gas consumed and various types of payment and discount plans.

Although complaints against British Gas were sharply down from the unprecedented level they reached in 1996, the GCC's report points out that they were still around the same level as in 1995 and more than double the level recorded in the early Nineties. The GCC says the number of customers who failed to get satisfaction from British Gas was "still far too many when measured against the benchmark of earlier years".

By the end of the year, 4.5 million households in the South-west and South, Scotland and the North-east were free to shop around for a supplier. There are now 20 rival suppliers in the market.

The independent supplier attracting the largest number of complaints to the GCC last year was Calortex, a joint venture set up by Calor Gas and Texaco. It was the subject of 1,457 complaints, followed by Eastern Natural Gas, part of the Eastern Electricity group, which recorded 919 complaints. Northern Electric, which was the subject of a rebuke last week from the gas regulator Ofgas over its doorstep selling techniques, received 292 complaints.

But the GCC adds that, in general terms, suppliers with higher levels of complaints also tended to account for a greater proportion of customers who had switched from British Gas.

Despite the overall decline in complaints, the GCC detected a sharp rise in complaints from industrial and commercial consumers. Category A complaints - those dealt with by the GCC directly - leapt by 156 per cent to 1,677 while category B complaints referred to the companies rose by 111 per cent.

The GCC said that the increase was a cause of "serious concern". It added that since this sector of the market had been open to competition since 1992 it would have expected the level of complaints from customers switching suppliers to have fallen.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Business Development Manager – Frankfurt – Asset Manager

Negotiable: Selby Jennings: Business Development Manager – Frankfurt – Asset M...

Selby Jennings: Leveraged Finance - Senior Associate - International Bank - Frankfurt

Competitive + bonus: Selby Jennings: My client, a growing European CIB are loo...

Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible