British Gas: Much better

Back in May, my patience snapped with British Gas’ customer service and whipped-up one quick mini-rant. After today, I’m happy to take this all back, as they’ve been absolutely fantastic.

Without gong into the fascinating and extensive history of the aging boiler, having got back after Christmas it was clear the appliance was sick. Very sick indeed. And that meant the house was cold. Very cold indeed. Three layers of clothing plus three forms of duvet were just about enough to keep me warm.

And here’s where British Gas came into their own. I rang up and got an appointment for the next day (today) ‘between 8am and 1pm’.

At 8am their engineer rang to say he’d be twenty minutes. Twenty minutes later, he was beginning to give the whole thing a clean and once-over, plus replacing a few parts. And then declared the boiler was on its way out so kindly left behind a form recommending the landlord replace the boiler before saying to call if anything went wrong in the next hour.

It might be because it’s New Year’s Eve and may be a bit quieter than normal, but the service was quick, efficient, friendly and excellent.

It’s all too easy to be somebody who sits ranting at a keyboard at any perceived slight, which is why I rarely like blogging about the failings of assorted companies unless they get to the point where it’s either let or steam or lose sanity. Last May, I’d definitely reached that point.

But I think it’s also fair that, if the same company gets something right, it’s only right that I redress the balance, especially considering I get a fair few hits each day for ‘British Gas Customer Service’.

Of course I’m not arrogant enough to assume what I wrote in the spring had any effect on them, but it’s nice that when dealing with a company you’ve had bad experiences with in the past, that they surprise you.

***NOTE: Since writing this a few of you have used the comments below t rant about your bad experiences with British Gas. That’s cool, I have no problem with that. After all, I did the same when I run out of patience with them last year. And, as I constantly bang on about the power of the web to get things done, I’ll leave them there unless the commenters want them removed.

What I will say, though, is if you’re upset with British Gas’ customer service (and lawd knows this doesn’t appear to be an uncommon occurance), you might be better letting off steam elsewhere. There’s probably some excellent consumer forums out there where people will be able to give you advice on how to kick them into action. And, if British Gas has any sense, they’ll monitor these places. Again, I’ve no problem with you letting off steam here, but other than catharsis, it probably won’t be a great deal of help in getting the problem solved.

Also, just to clarify, this post is nothing to do with British Gas whatsoever. I *always* disclose if a blog post is the result of a PR pitch. This one isn’t. I just thought it was only fair, after ranting about them, that I should at least offer praise for them getting something right.

And to people who’ve emailed me asking if I think their problem is acceptable customer service, the answer is it probably isn’t. But beyond that I really can’t help. I’m not a gas engineer, I know absolutely nothing about boilers and I don’t work for British Gas. I can offer sympathy, given that I’ve been in similar situations, but nothing else.

Seriously, just because I’ve had one good experience and one bad experience with the company doesn’t mean I know everything about how the system works or am qualified to offer advice on your boiler. If you’re really having problems, try Energywatch or Ofgem, or They will probably be far more useful that I can ever be on this. Much as I’d love to fix you central heating, I really can’t.

Right, hope that clarifies stuff. Rant away, although if you’re being exceptionally abusive I may delete your comment. And I don’t reply to abusive emails, no matter what you think I’ve done to my non-existent sister.***


4 Responses to “British Gas: Much better”

  1. 1 Susie Atherton January 12, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I’m happy for you that this was sorted out, but am afraid to say this example of good customer services is not anything like my experience. I have been without a working boiler since New Year’s eve, it is 1 year old, should surely be a straightforward process to fix, but 4 BGas engineers couldn’t cope with it, their promise of getting the manufacturer to call and arrange to come out within an hour of them leaving has not materialised yet (this happened 5 days ago). Would you say this was good customer service? It is the case that complicated problems just get ignored? For all they know I am sitting at home still freezing cold and wondering when they will call. I have sent emails to their customer service, left messages with an engineer and still, nothing. The implications of this sort of practice for someone more vulnerable than me do not even bear thinking about.

  2. 2 Gary Andrews January 12, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Susie, I can sympathise with you – our boiler still isn’t 100% right (although hasn’t been for a long time, but that’s another very dull story) and it’s been blimmin’ freezing at times in the house.

    But it’s worth pointing out that’s I’m just a blogger who lost his patience with some very shoddy customer service last time around from British Gas, but thought it was only fair to balance that out when I got some better than expected service this time (and they’ve been very helpful since the above post, not that I’d remotely expect this blog to have ahd any effect).

    In that respect, I probably can’t do anything to help, other than offer sympathy and a spare blanket and certainly have no idea what’s going on in the myriad that is their customer service! Although I can completely understand the need to rant – I think if I were in your position I’d have done the same.

    Best advice I can give is to contact somebody like Energywatch, or Ofgem, who have been pretty helpful when friends have contacted them in the past. As a last resort, contact the consumer pages of newspapers (like Guardian Money, or You and Yours, or something like that). And do get back in contact with the customer services department, via phone if possible, and let them know that the service isn’t good enough and you’ll be contacting any of the above, plus put this in writing as well (in case of any legal follow-up).

    Hope your boiler gets fixed soon!

  3. 3 Crying in Kensington January 15, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    I am definitely not a satisfied customer. I knew my boiler needed to be replaced because my cowboy builder had improperly installed a Keston boiler, which I now know is a rubbish boiler.
    BG came install a new boiler on Tuesday. They said they would probably have it up and running on the first day and just have to check it out and do maintenance on the second day. The installers looks like he is fifteen and I think he has inhaled too much lead fumes. Needless to say the install is not complete. The installer has disappeared, apparently he has discovered that the new system needs a pump and is off to buy one. Couldn’t say if or when he’d be back. I have called multiple times the help line and even the area manager’s cell phone. Needless to say I haven’t heard back from anyone.
    All I can say is British Gas is as useless as every other plumber I have used. Just because they spend more on PR doesn’t make them any better.

  4. 4 Gary Andrews January 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Jesus, it seems like some people thing I’m PRing British Gas here. I’m really not! I just thought it was only fair to redress the balance.

    NOTE: I’ll always disclose if a blog post comes as a result of a PR pitch. This definitely isn’t one of them.

    We’ll be finding out how good they are at fitting boilers in the next few weeks mind.

    Part of me wishes I’d not opened this whole can of worms!

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December 2008

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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com

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