LETTER:Customer choice in paying gas bills

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From Mr Mike Alexander

Sir: On Friday (9 June) you published a letter from Bamber Gascoigne on the subject of estimated gas bills. We will shortly be contacting him with regard to his recent bill, but I would like to take this opportunity to address the issues raised and clarify British Gas policy.

I can categorically state that British Gas does not overestimate customer bills to benefit financially. One of the standards of service we promise to our customers is that estimates used favour neither British Gas nor the customer, and any differences between actual and estimated gas usage will be monitored through the regulator, Ofgas. Results in 1994 show that in more than 94 per cent of sampled customers our estimates were within 4 per cent of the actual gas used, a performance that exceeded the standards agreed with Ofgas.

Estimates are based on historical consumption data and may be weather adjusted, based on the recent climatic conditions. On occasions when the estimated bill is greater or lower than the actual gas reading, details on the bill invite customers to fill in the correct reading and return it to British Gas or phone us with the actual reading. When this happens, a revised bill will be sent. It is the customer who chooses whether they wish to pay the estimated bill or have another bill sent to them based on their own reading.

Yours faithfully,

MIKE ALEXANDER

Managing Director

British Gas

Staines, Middlesex

9 June

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