Letter: Gas is not a social service

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andrea Cook (letter, 21 March) argues that the discounting of gas charges for direct debit payers, and the consequent fact that those using pre-payment meters pay more for their gas, is the unacceptable face of competition. I disagree.

It is standard commercial practice for retailers to discount charges to those who buy large amounts and/or pay by direct debit. It is appropriate that businesses charge customers a price that reflects the true cost of servicing those customers, encouraging an efficiency of operation that benefits us all.

It is emphatically not the job of businesses or their regulators to second- guess the Government on social policy as to which sections of the community are most deserving of subsidy. It is the case that this logic results in higher prices for utility services to those on lower income. Hence the fuel cost element in social security benefits should be increased.

PAUL GARDEN

London SW19

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