British Gas is expected to report profits of more than £600 million for 2007 on February 21, a slap in the face for customers who have seen significant price increases since the turn of the year. This compares with profits of just £95 million for 2006.Fuel bills
have risen for households, despite many taking the action to switch energy provider
and an apparent reduction in the cost of wholesale gas, causing many critics to describe the current conditions for consumers as unacceptable.
Chris Gilchrist of EveryInvestor says: “Britain’s domestic energy market is proof that without firm regulation, large companies exploit consumers.
“It is scarcely credible that British Gas features in the Virgin Climate Change Fund
, and that despite a torrent of customer complaints the regulator appears powerless to influence its behaviour.”
The company raised its standard tariff by 15 per cent on January 18 and replaced its Click Energy 4 online energy tariff with the Click Energy 5 tariff on February 8, which was effectively an 18.6 per cent price increase. Having attracted many new customers after other providers raised prices in January, customers on the Click Energy 5 tariff are now paying an average of £138 more per year.
Not only does it appear that British Gas lured customers by delaying price hikes, it also seems its service is not up to scratch. According to a recent survey by the Citizens Advice Bureau, the provider offers the worst customer service across the board.
Mr Gilchrist comments: “Consumers prefer to manage their finances and major bills without hassle. But if they want to get the best deals, they now have to become full-time guerrilla shoppers engaged in continual war against the large utility and telecom companies. It’s time politicians called regulators to account for permitting this situation to develop.”
© Fair Investment Company Ltd