Man 'bills British Gas for time' after ongoing disputes

Image caption,
British Gas said the payment was a gesture of goodwill

A 59-year-old man from Rotherham says he has successfully billed British Gas for his time after two years of ongoing disputes with the energy supplier.

Barry Payling said he was paid more than £2,000 by the company after he threatened to take them to court for a "horrendous catalogue of errors".

He said mistakes included miscalculated bills and debt collectors at his door.

British Gas said it had paid the money as "a gesture of goodwill, an apology" - not for Mr Payling's time.

Mr Payling, a photographer, told BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast that billing his time felt like the "last resort" after errors - involving numerous telephone calls, lost cheques, unanswered emails and a letter being sent to his dead mother asking her to sign up as a customer - left him frustrated.

"I got sent a bill [for] two quarters for £950 - I'm a single man living alone!" he said.

He said he logged every phone call and letter he made to British Gas, then billed them for his loss of earnings, and planned to demand the £2,108 sum at court.

But he said threatening to take the energy supplier to court had been "a David and Goliath job".

"When you take people to court you pay summons, they have a month to reply, they have so many weeks to put a defence in, then you pay fees - the man in street would be easily put off by the whole process," he said.

In a statement, British Gas said: "An ex-gratia payment was made to Mr Payling after the company made some mistakes with his account.

"Ex-gratia payments are not made for time or loss of earnings; they are a gesture of goodwill, paid as an apology, and the amount is set on a case-by-case basis.

"Such cases are rare at British Gas. We were recently named in an independent report from Morgan Stanley as providing the best customer service in our industry.

"The same survey also said that British Gas has the highest customer satisfaction out of the major energy suppliers."

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