South West Wales

GB Oils makes changes after overcharging customers

An international oil company has introduced changes in its working practice after a trading standards investigation in Carmarthenshire.

GB Oils was fined £50,000 after trading standards regulation breaches which in some cases resulted in overcharging customers for fuel.

The company pleaded guilty in August to 17 consumer protection law offences.

The firm has apologised, and the prosecution accepted the breaches did not involve dishonesty or fraud.

The issue is highlighted in BBC Wales' Welsh language current Affairs programme Taro 9, which is show on S4C on Monday night.

GB Oils has two depots in mid and west Wales - in St Clears, Carmarthenshire, and Llandysul, Ceredigion.

The company trades under about 40 names, including OJ Williams.

'Altered procedures'

The background to the court case was the severe weather and snowstorms during the particularly harsh winter of 2009-10, which led to an exceptionally high demand for fuel.

During that period hundreds of people complained that OJ Williams had charged more than expected for oil, and many contacted trading standards.

GB Oils apologised to customers for errors made in the two depots during the severe weather.

Chris and Roy Spragg, who were part of the original investigation, said they had written to the company a number of times asking for an explanation as to why they were charged more than they expected for their fuel, but they had no reply.

Mrs Spragg told Taro 9 that her husband was quoted a price of 45p per litre when he rang asking for oil prices in January 2010, but was invoiced two weeks later for almost 60p a litre.

She said that she had been receiving bills for the disputed amount of £156 as far as August of this year.

GB Oils said these matters were dealt with 18 months ago.

It accepted that Mr and Mrs Spragg should not have received monthly statements, and that they had now "altered procedures".

Trading standards officials said they hoped the case means that customers in future pay a "fair and reasonable price for their fuel".

Taro 9 is on S4C at 21:30 on Monday, 10 October.

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