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Energy company reviews

British Gas

By Sarah Ingrams

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British Gas

British Gas is the UK’s largest domestic energy provider, supplying around 11 million homes with gas and electricity. But is British Gas any good?

British Gas is one of only two British-owned and British-based suppliers among the Big Six energy companies, and is a subsidiary of Centrica. 

British is known as Scottish Gas in Scotland and also operates Sainsbury’s Energy. Customers of British Gas and Sainsbury’s Energy can collect Nectar points.

Can British Gas save you money? Use our independent switching site, Which? Switch, to compare energy prices.

British Gas customer score

British Gas came 15th out of 23 energy companies, as rated by 8,917 members of the public in the annual Which? customer survey – the biggest of its kind. 

‘I think it’s a bit more expensive than others’

British Gas customer

The table below shows the breakdown of its score from our survey. 

British Gas was in the news in 2016 after it was announced that it had lost around 400,000 customers. Scroll down to find out more about what its customers think of it now and how its prices match up to its rivals’.

 

British Gas survey results
Area of performance Star rating
Customer service and complaints handling
Value for money
Bills (accuracy and clarity)
Helping you to save energy
Customer score 56%

(Survey: October 2016, responses of 2,257 British Gas customers.) 

Find out how British Gas compares with other energy companies – click to see our full results of the best and worst energy companies.

Which? verdict on British Gas

British Gas is the largest energy supplier in the UK, but it’s certainly not the cheapest. In fact, it is expensive compared with other suppliers. British Gas customers awarded it only two stars for value for money, and it’s one of only three companies whose customers feel it’s poor value for money. 

British Gas launched a new tariff in 2016. This gave customers free energy on either Saturday or Sunday. Besides this, for much of the year, all its tariffs cost the same, regardless of whether they were variable or fixed. So switching to another British Gas deal wouldn’t have saved its customers money. 

‘Other suppliers are cheaper but switching is too much hassle’

British Gas customer

Our survey found that two thirds of British Gas customers have been with it for more than five years. But loyalty doesn’t equate to high satisfaction levels.

British Gas customer service

One customer told us: ‘I have been with British Gas in excess of 40 years, and have always been dealt with in a fair and responsible way, with quick responses and service.’ Another said: ‘It is not the cheapest, doesn’t offer the cheapest deal and there is no loyalty for being a long customer.’

Other British Gas customers told us about long waits to get problems resolved. One said: ‘I had to send multiple emails on the same subject – they did not seem to absorb what I was trying to say.’

Our snapshot investigation into energy companies’ call waiting times found it took just over nine minutes on average to get through to a human in British Gas’s customer services. It was the slowest of the Big Six suppliers to answer the phone. 

Pros: Big UK brand, some of its tariffs come with smart lighting

Cons: Customers give it two stars for value for money, slow to answer the phone to existing customers

British Gas fuel mix

Where British Gas gets its fuel from: 

  • 34% nuclear
  • 33% renewables
  • 30% natural gas
  • 2% coal
  • 1% other.

(Note: this information was correct January 2017.)

British Gas prices

The graph below shows how British Gas’s variable (also known as standard) tariff and its cheapest fixed tariff compared with the cheapest fixed tariff on the market over a two-year period. 

If you were a British Gas customer switching to its cheapest tariff in autumn 2016, you wouldn’t have saved money; if you’d switched supplier, you would have. 

In August 2017, British Gas announced a 12.5% price rise for electricity from 15 September. This will affect 3.1million customers on its standard tariff, adding £76 on average to their dual-fuel bill over the next year. It is not increasing gas prices.

British Gas will also give a £76 credit to 200,000 of the affected customers who receive the Warm Home Discount to protect them from the increase.

Previously, in February 2017, British Gas said it would freeze prices on its standard variable tariff until August 2017, bucking the trend of other big energy suppliers raising their prices. 

Its standard tariff is the cheapest of the Big Six suppliers, but far from the cheapest tariff available, as the graph above shows.

Don't pay your energy company more than you should. Use Which? Switch to find a cheap gas and electricity deal.

British Gas in the news

2017

July: British Gas paid £1.1 million to domestic and small business customers to compensate them for its agents missing or being late to appointments and failing to compensate them for this. Energy regulator Ofgem requires firms to pay customers compensation if they don’t meet minimum standards, including keeping appointments.

Energy regulator Ofgem also announced an investigation into whether British Gas broke rules around switching. The probe will examine whether customers were charged exit fees incorrectly.

June: British Gas will pay £9.5 million in redress after energy regulator Ofgem uncovered failings in its treatment of small business customers between March 2014 and December 2015. British Gas breached regulations for switching customers within 21 days, billing and complaints handling. 

Ofgem said British Gas’ failings have now ceased but this follows another redress payment in January 2017, after British Gas failed to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to install advanced electricity meters for business customers.

February: British Gas announced it will launch new product bundles and offers for customers in April 2017. British Gas Rewards will let customers choose from options including cheaper energy tariffs for longstanding customers; deals bundling another home service (such as insurance) with energy; Sky entertainment; energy-saving advice; and tariffs including Hive Active Heating or other smart home technology. If you’re a British Gas customer, it will contact you about this.

British Gas bucked a trend of energy price rises to announce a price freeze until August for customers on its variable (also known as standard) tariff. The announcement came after EDF, Npower and Scottish Power all announced increases to their variable tariffs.

2016

British Gas was ordered to pay £4.5m redress by energy regulator Ofgem in December for failing to deliver advanced meters to its larger electricity business customers by the 2014 deadline.

In the first half of 2016, British Gas lost almost 400,000 residential customers to smaller suppliers.

2015

September: British Gas came joint 73rd out of 100 in a Which? survey of best and worst brands for customer service, with a customer service score of 71%.

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