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The State of the Big Six: British Gas

British Gas is the largest electricity and gas supplier, dominating the list with its impressive market share and customer base. Its predecessor, the Gas Light and Coke Company, is one of the oldest utility companies in the world. The company spans over two centuries of existence and remains an industry leader in UK energy.

Get to know more about British Gas and its position in the marketplace today.

British Gas: An Overview

The rich history of British Gas has paved the way for its top status in the energy trade. It has a market share of 19% on the electricity side, holding steady since 2018. Its share of the gas market is valued at 28% in the second quarter of 2019. The firm has been serving an astounding twelve million customers to date.

The energy firm has received an overall customer score of 56% from the Which? annual customer survey. The 7,429 respondents of the annual poll gave British Gas an OK rating but gave less than satisfactory scores for customer service, bill clarity, and its value for money.

British Gas published the fuel mix of its energy supply from April 2018 to March 2019, showing renewables as its primary source of energy (56%). It’s significantly higher than the UK’s average of 33% for renewables. Other sources include natural gas (29%), nuclear (9%), coal (4%), and other fuels (2%).

British Gas received a fair rating (three out of five stars) for complaints. It has the cheapest standard variable tariff (SVT) among the Big Six suppliers, although it closed that tariff to new customers in 2018. Customer loyalty is another strength of the company, with two-thirds or 59% of its customers staying with the firm for more than five years. It also has six million smart meters installed, the most out of any supplier.

However, an overwhelming number of customers reckon British Gas has poor value for money. It also lagged in rankings for phone customer service and was the slowest to respond to live chats according to a Which? Investigation.

The supplier paid £2.65 million in redress to energy regulator Ofgem last August 2018 because of switching errors that included levying exit fees in the grace period that allowed free switching for customers. Some accounts were also transferred to expensive SVTs, which incurred overpayments of more than £780,000.

In August 2018, British Gas announced a 3.8% price increase to its SVT, which added an average of £44 on customers’ bills per year. This price rise and another one prior added a total of £104 on average per year in 2018.

Due to Ofgem increasing the price cap rate in February of 2019 to £1,254, the energy firm announced a 10% increase as a response to the regulator. It added an average of £119 per year for British Gas customers. A few months later, an unusual price drop took place since Ofgem lowered the price cap. It prompted the company to drop its SVT by 6%. Currently, customers on a one-year fixed tariff can expect to pay an average of £1,171 per year.

Key Points to Consider for Home Users

British Gas home users can contact 0843 487 1809 for any concern regarding their usage, repairs, and queries. If there is an emergency such as cases of leaks or if space smells of gas, it is crucial to call a representative quickly and avoid turning on any electrical switch. They should also ventilate the area and extinguish any naked fire in the vicinity.

The company has multiple payment channels, like direct debit, by bank or post, or at the Post Office or Payzone. The partnership with PayPoint was not renewed for 2020, which means customers can no longer pay their bills or top-up prepayment meters using PayPoint.

For homeowners looking to move houses within 28 days, customers can conveniently inform the firm through the dedicated online service portal. For new users, a five-day period to set up the account would commence, but they will be able to use gas and electricity as usual.

Since British Gas recommends online transactions, so it is essential for home users to keep their online accounts secure by using strong passwords, checking the validity of emails and website links before opening and activating an antivirus software.

Key points to consider for business users

Businesses of any size can rely on British Gas Business to have the gas and electricity tariff that suits them. Prices are fully fixed and include transportation and metering costs. For electricity bills, FIT, RO and CFD schemes are inclusive and set.

Business users can avail of maintenance, installation, and repair on commercial gas boilers from British Gas. The company is also amenable to drainage and plumbing maintenance.

Businesses can choose from standard single rate, smart meters, and half-hourly meters, depending on their size and requirement. The company also offers services such as maintenance and installation of systems so businesses can generate their renewable energy. Some technologies that can be applied include solar PV, heat pumps, biomass heating, battery and other renewable options.