Read my blog at Huffington Post

I also blog at Huffington Post's new UK site; please click here to read my posts there.

Friday, 22 February 2013

British Gas wins Pain English Award

Yes, that's Pain English, not Plain English, a feeble joke that I essay mere moments after learning from the Standard that Gordon Brown typically earns around £60,000 per speech following his relegation from the premiership, compared to the now-that's-more-like-it figure of £200,000 reportedly commanded by Tony Blair (who presumably charges a special premium for speeches that include verbs). Surely thirteen years of a Labour Government were intended to eliminate such relative poverty from our nation's midst?

Perhaps Mr Blair or Mr Brown could speak on my behalf to an audience of executives at British Gas, who frankly would benefit from a good talking to. I'd do it myself, if only British Gas could rustle up a sum resembling the £60,375.83 paid to Mr Brown's charitable foundation to speak in Yalta to the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, Mr Pinchuk being a Ukrainian steel magnate. Although I have to say that Mr Pinchuk has been had, as I would have spoken to his foundation in Yalta for only £60,375 and would not have asked for that annoying extra 85p that, like a small cover charge in a restaurant, always makes one feel a little bit over-charged.

Indeed, given that my political significance is, I fear, no more than 0.1% of that of Mr Gordon Brown, I would have spoken to the Crimean hordes (presumably over the telephone) for a mere £60.38, an amount that would come in handy for the payment of £69.67 that I am becoming ever-more-likely to soon disburse to the Gas Board (

British Gas emailed me yesterday to say that they "have reviewed (my)electricity account", a piece of news that thoroughly intrigued me, as I have never had a British Gas electricity account and this is about my gas account. Does your heart sing with confidence at the level of attention to detail displayed by a company that, in an email about one's gas bill, refers obliquely (oh, so very bleakly) to one's non-existent electricity account?

British Gas's latest declamation does, in fact, go into such detail about my bill(s) as to demonstrate quite convincingly that I might indeed owe them sixty-nine pounds and sixty-seven pence, and I have thanked them for that (and will presumably soon be remitting them the sum in question). But - but, I tell you, but - the previous bill appeared to me to demonstrate equally convincingly that they owed me £80.92; I must, however, be mistaken, as the email below explains what has happened in simple terms, displaying as it does the acuity, clarity, fluency and accuracy-in-written-English that one would hope for in an email from British Gas about one's disputed gas bill:

Dear Mr Harris

I'm sorry that you have to contact us again enquiring about your final bill and the payments and also for the delay in my reply.
I have reviewed your electricity account and I see that your previous invoice issued on 13 February 2013 was reversed due to the returned payments on 13 February and 15 February 2013. It shows on the bill that the payment has been included but once your bank has informed us, your previous bill was cancelled a new bill was issued adjusting the payment of £150.59 and £153.02 which you can see as an adjustment of £303.61. The current balance for your electricity account is £69.67 in debit.

Below is the calculation for the previous gas bill issued on 13 February 2012 and was reversed due to return on the payments on 13 February 2013 and 15 February 2013.

Gas bill calculation:

Bill date: 13 February 2013

Bill period: 20 September 2012 to 31 January 2013.

Amount brought forward: £339.85 (debit)

Payment received: £768.61 (credit)

Adjustment: £153.00 (this payment is the one which we have requested on 13 February 2013 which is included in the credit balance, the other payment of £150.59 is also included in the credit balance but not included in the adjustment column of your bill because it was requested on 15 February 2013 and this bill was issued on 13 February 2013.) 

Balance carried forward: £275.74 (£339.85 +£153.02 - £768.61)

Gas used: £185.55 + VAT: £9.27

Closing balance: £80.92

However, both these payments was returned, therefore we cancelled the previous bill and issued a new bill.

If you're not satisfied your enquiry has been resolved, please get in touch with me and I'll be more than happy to help you further.

However, if you're happy with what I've done you don't need to do anything and I'll close your enquiry on 7 March 2013.

If you would like to review our Complaint Handling Procedure please visit our website or alternatively, reply to my email and I will arrange to send you a copy free of charge through the post.

Thank you for contacting British Gas.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Matthew,

    My name is Laura and I look after social media at British Gas. I was obviously very disappointed to read your latest interactions with our company and wanted to get in touch to check whether everything has now been resolved?

    I am very sorry that you have not experienced the high levels of customer service you should expect from British Gas and would welcome the opportunity to ensure this situation has now been rectified to your satisfaction.

    If you have any further issues or comments which you would like to discuss, please do send me an email to

    Many thanks and apologies again for any inconvenience caused.