Gas guestimate

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From Mr Bamber Gascoigne

Sir: British Gas has been much in the news for greed in the boardroom. But I wonder whether they are not operating a more subtle form of greed in the home.

I received this morning my quarterly gas bill. It is an estimated figure, since they now only read the meter every six months, and it was an estimated figure for the same quarter last year. But the interesting thing is that British Gas estimates that I have consumed 18 per cent more gas this spring than last.

On what basis, I wonder? I don't remember the weather being much colder. And have other customers perhaps had the same experience? If so, there is a major financial advantage to British Gas at (and this is the subtle part) only a minor cost to each of us.

Obviously it all comes right every six months. But a policy of estimating high for the first half of each six-monthly period would bring an enormous windfall to British Gas nationwide, on a cash flow and interest-bearing basis.

Is there such a policy?

Yours sincerely,




3 June