More than 2.3 Million British Gas Customers Still in the Dark Over Imminent Price Hikes

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British gas overestimates customer loyalty as half a million customers walk with millions more set to go.

As British Gas prepare to implement record price rises for its customers, research from http://www.uSwitch.com reveals that a staggering 2.3 million customers are still in the dark over the price hikes. 19.38 per cent of customers were only alerted to the imminent rises after talking to http://www.uSwitch.com researchers, while just over a half were made aware by the media (42.77 per cent). Only a third (28.47 per cent) of customers have been made aware of the price hike by British Gas themselves.

From Monday 20th September, British Gas customers will see their bills increase by £98.93* per year more for their gas, up £145.54* on the start of this year. This is a move that has disappointed customers, half (51.44 per cent) of whom feel let down by the organisation. Just under half a million (4.21 per cent) customers have already said ‘enough is enough’ following the announcement earlier this month, with over 4.7 million more British Gas customers (39.47 per cent) set to follow in their footsteps and desert the energy giant.

Even their most loyal customers seem to have tired of the continuing price hikes with a quarter (25.85 per cent) of long term customers, who’ve been with British Gas for over ten years, planning to switch to an alternative supplier. And for those customers who may not have switched this time, having only been with British Gas for 6-12 months, almost 60 per cent (57.69%) of them say they will move should they see another price rise.

Jon Miller, director at http://www.uSwitch.com comments, “It is encouraging to see that even the most loyal of customers are aware of the alternatives, and finally voting with their feet by leaving British Gas. These price rises, which come into effect on Monday, are record rises and completely unjustifiable for a company which is already the most expensive gas supplier in the country.”

British Gas is blaming a rise in wholesale gas prices for this latest round of price hikes, a view that is shared by very few of its customers. Over a third (37.95 per cent) believe that profit margin is the key factor in the energy giant increase gas and electricity prices.

Miller concludes, “We welcome the news that MPs are launching an investigation next month which will hopefully shed some light on why the price of wholesale gas is rising. However any such inquiry is likely to take some time, and in the meantime we’d recommend that customers switch to a cheaper supplier in order to offset rising energy bills.”

To switch supplier or for more information

visit http://www.uSwitch.com or call 0800 093 06 07

More information about electricity price rises in 2004: http://www.uswitch.com/Energy/help/issues/electricity-prices.asp

More information about gas price rises in 2004:

http://www.uswitch.com/Energy/help/issues/gas-prices.asp

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Evans, http://www.uSwitch.com on 0207 802 2923 or jenniferevans@uswitch.com

Notes to editors:

*A typical high usage dual fuel customer (paying by standard credit) can expect bills to increase by of £98.93 per year. A high usage customer is typically a four-person family, living in a 3-bed house. The high usage consumption is based on Ofgem's kWh criteria - 4950KwH for elec, 28000kWH for gas.

*£148.54 figure is for a high usage duel fuel customer and refers to the combined effect of both September and January price increases.

http://www.uSwitch.com is a free, impartial online and phone based comparison and switching service which helps consumers compare prices on gas, electricity, home telephone, digital television and personal finance products. Our aim is to help customers take advantage of the best tariffs and services on offer from every supplier. The company has developed a calculator which evaluates a number of factors including price, location, service and payment method, and advises consumers on the best deal to suit their needs.

If they chose to, consumers can switch while they’re online or phone customer services direct.

The service is also available via telephone, fax and post. Consumers can call on 0800 093 06 07, fax 020 7233 5933 or write to Customer Services, http://www.uSwitch.com, 10th Floor, Portland House, Stag Place, London, SW1E 5BH , with their postcode and usage details.

http://www.uSwitch.com is not a supplier but acts as an independent advisor, giving consumers an impartial view of what’s on offer. Unlike traditional brokers, it compares prices from all energy suppliers, not just those it has a commercial relationship with. The service is based on the most up-to-date information provided by the supplier companies and industry regulators.

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Rebecca Ford
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