It’s a gas
No, I don’t mean it’s a gas as in ‘funny ha ha’. However, it is certainly a joke for British Gas customers though.
As of 29th May, the energy giant is introducing a 5.5% price hike, which will affect over 4 million customers.
Apparently, the introduction is ‘reluctant’ and Centrica – who own British Gas – are blaming it on rising wholesale and government policy costs.
So, none of the additional £246 million they will make from the increase will line their coffers then? No, of course not.
Ha! They’re having a laugh if they think we will believe that.
Ok, so a price rise of £60 a year doesn’t sound like a huge amount when you break it down over the course of a year. But it is still an emotive user experience for all the wrong reasons. Times are tight for everyone, so people will feel the pinch.
Trying to avoid blame
It sounds to me as though British Gas are trying to pass the buck. They’re blaming government policy costs but the government don’t approve the hike.
The Energy Minister – Claire Perry – said it was very disappointing and unjustified. She was even encouraging current British Gas customers to switch suppliers because they are already ‘paying more than they need to’.
And, of course, consumer feedback simply doesn’t get taken into consideration.
Due to such ‘unnecessary’ price rises, this coming winter the government will be introducing a price cap to guarantee consumers protection from poor tariff values.
The cap will also help to further reduce the £1.4 billion a year that has been overpayed by ‘Big Six’ customers.
Back in November, British Gas announced that they would scrap their new customer standard variable tariffs (SVT), before the government slapped a price cap on them.
That does nothing for a large proportion of existing customers though. They will be likely to remain on SVT’s, as these are generally the default option when fixed-cost deals expire. And they are the most expensive type of energy bill.
Those who are on such a Big Six energy supplier default tariff would definitely be better off by switching, as they could save around £308 by doing so.
And that will definitely be a better end user experience than sticking around to have extra pressure added to household bills.
Of course, Centrica stands by it’s claim that the Government’s energy policies are to blame for pushing up customers’ bills.
They also believe that the Government should either ensure all suppliers pay a share of policy costs. Or, better still, that the costs be moved from energy bills into general taxation.
Either way though, I guess it’s still the end user that gets hit for the extra money.
No customer wants to be ripped off
All energy firms out there, particularly the ‘Big Six’, have been facing pressure over the way they treat their customers for quite a long time.
It wouldn’t take extensive user experiencing monitoring or customer feedback to learn that the public feel they are being overcharged. Or, even ‘ripped off’.
The problem is, energy giants are among the many who place their hopes on the fact that consumers don’t have the time or inclination to switch and find a better deal.
And that is true in a lot of cases. But, as a business, it’s not something to hedge your bets on.
Ok, so there is very little likelihood that over 4 million customers will leave British Gas. But even if they did, they still have another 3 million plus customers to turn to.
Not many average small and medium sized businesses have that luxury though.
Yes, costs do rise and, sometimes, it is inevitable that price increases have to be passed on to customers.
But make sure you give fair warning.
And ensure that the changes – and hikes – are absolutely necessary.
Make sure you are offering the right sort of emotive consumer experience. We can help by offering user experience monitoring so you can see your business from a customer point of view. Then you can work to meet consumer requirements whilst keeping your business running.
And just remember: in this day and age, customers don’t have money to burn. So, don’t rip them off.