If you see Sid, tell him British Gas are being taking to court

11 February 2009

Well here's a refreshing change that'll have scores of Bitterwallet readers across the land cheering into their afternoon tea; a woman has been praised by a judge for taking British Gas to court for bad customer service. Can you hear the roar? Can you?

A property investor has been told by the Court of Justice she can sue British Gas for £10,000, for harassing her over money she didn't owe. Which? reports that Lisa Ferguson left British Gas as a customer in 2006, but continued to receive bills and threatening letters for the next five months. Despite letters, phone calls and assurances that the matter would be sorted, it wasn't and the threats continued.

British Gas attempted to blame everything on an IT error, but Lord Justice Jacob was having none of it, saying: "They should instead start taking responsibility for the running of their company in a competent, honest and ethical manner."

"Real people are responsible for programming and entering material into the computer. Moreover, the threats and demands were to be read by a real person, not by a computer. A real person is likely to suffer real anxiety and distress if threatened in the way which Ms Ferguson was."

And as if your opinion of Lord Judge Justice Jacob couldn't get any higher, he had this to say of Ferguson: "It is one of the glories of this country that every now and then one of its citizens is prepared to take a stand against the big battalions of government or industry. Such a person is Lisa Ferguson."

British Gas are sticking to their story in the upcoming court case, stating that significant system changes caused the problematic billing. That may be, but unless Ferguson was speaking to a call centre based in the future, she'd have been speaking to real people, not mindless automatons, that could have done something about it.

[Which?]

TOPICS:   Utilities

13 comments

  • Mr e.
    I would have been delighted if she had not been a property developer......
  • bidrick
    From what I've heard, BG customer service is already staffed by mindless automotons.
  • joseph
    Brilliant, what an excellent result for this tenacious women, I hope that like Lord Justice Jacob, let;s hope that the Judge who will hear her case will be as human.
  • Norman C.
    I wish her luck. For several years British gas would send me bills of increasing size despite me telling them many times that I had no supply (actually there was a deactivated meter in a tiny cupboard 7 foot off the ground). Every few months I'd spend 20 minutes or so on the phone until I sorted it out, only to find another bill arrive soon after. Once the bills reached about £2000 I thought they'd take me to court, but luckily our landlord fitted gas central heating fitted and once our gas meter was reactivated everything was sorted out. There is someone else who assumes to owe them money and keep writing nasty, accusing letters to you despite everything you tell them; the TV licence people.
  • Lumoruk
    I agree with mr empty
  • mart
    Norman C -I recently heard an interview where it was revealed that the BBC spends 120 million pounds a year simply COLLECTING the Licence Fee - Apparently those vile, disrespectful and plain rude threats that I keep getting don't come cheap!
  • Matt
    I've had a very similar problem with Bulldog ISP. We cancelled the contract with them as they simply had the WORST customer support ever and dispite being 'conencted' to them for 3 months we had never actaully not an internet connection, lol. We cancelled and everything was fine, yet they kept billing me... so i rang my bank to cancel the direct debit. Done. Still kept billing - rang the bank, they looked it up. Bulldog had set up 12 'yearly' direct debits instead of the one 'monthly' DD. I spoke to the bank about this and they asked if i'd signed 12 forms - i hadn't. They guy on the phone cancelled them all for me and mentioned to me that I wasn't the first person cancelling a DD with him on the same day for bulldog. He said that BD had done they same thing to the person earlier in the day and that BD had been reported for illegal setting up of direct debits to try and stop people cancelling them. Anyway... after that 6 months past. Nothing. Then they suddenly started billing me again, i ignored it. Then the threatening letters started, which i replied too via e-mail (apparently they don't have a postal address or a phone number). The repsonse time on the 'automatic' email reply was 6 days, the reply from then came 6 weeks later, lol. By which time I had taken legal steps of my own against them for the shear number of letters i was getting and the fact there was NO way to respond to them. Finally got them to respond (after a lawyer got hold of thel). Apparently it was and 'IT' fault - seems like and easy excuse these days. Fiasco over... Until 3 years later... when I got a call from a debt collection agency saying that bulldog had instructed them that i owed them over £800 (plus the colelction agency fee which put it at over £1000). By this time I had moved house twice and I just laughed down the phone at the lady, explained that I already had legal proceedings started with the company and that if the collection agency valued it reputation they should work with a company that actually had 1 brain-cell between them and hung up. Not heard anymore, but it's only been 6 months since that call, so who knows!
  • Matt
    A few years ago BG closed our account with no prior warning and then started sending us bills in someone elses name. Repeatedly over five months I informed them of their error and they said they would sort it but didn't. Over and over again I would get passed around, left on hold and told I would get called back - which of course never happened. Eventually by some quirk I got passed over to a lovely woman somewhere else in the country who told me she neither dealt with my geographical area nor the customer service area which covered our problem but she was so angry about how we had been treated that she went out of her way to sort it out. If only the othr BG customer service operatives were a tenth as good. To cap the whole sorry affair off we got a final demand for the money owing and had to really push to get them to accept that because of their error we should have extra time to pay it off. No apologies, no humility - nothing. When the money was paid off we changed supplier and then it took weeks to get what we had overpaid back into our account. A bunch of total muppets.
  • quiddity
    we've had an even worse problem with npower! got our meter changed from prepayment to direct debit. over the next 18 MONTHS! we kept recieving threating letters to take us to court for not paying our gas bill! there was 6 letters in all and each time we got one we phoned up & found that npower had cancelled the diredt debit! so set it up again, next monthnotice it hadnt come out of the bank, phone up set it up again....a year & a half of circles until they sorted the problem.....they said we were still on prepayment but hadnt been paying! as you may know prepayment meters have you put money on them. you get an overdraft of about £5 and thats it, we were £300 over!
  • Rik A.
    All these energy companies are as bad as each other... except EDF who are the most worstestest! They wouldn't let us leave them as "we owed them £850" - this was after a 14 month period of us repeatedly asking for an accurate bill (which they repeatedly failed to send us...), as we knew the bill was wrong. The actual amount we owed them, which was eventually worked out (by the Energy Watchdog, because EDF clearly can't count higher than 4 or 5).... £70. In fact, the only reason we owed them any money at all is because we stopped paying them months ago as a protest to their incompetence!
  • Kevan
    'Little Britain' - "computer says no". :)
  • SDP
    "If you see Sid, tell him British Gas are being taking to court" WTF. Jeez.
  • MicroWorld y.
    [...] If you see Sid, tell him British Gas are being taking to court … [...]

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