Industry News

More online control for direct debit customers

British Gas customers who choose to pay for their gas and electricity by fixed direct debit now have greater flexibility and control over their payment plans.

Britain’s largest energy company has unveiled a unique range of online tools offering direct debit customers more information about their payment plans, and more choice in the way they manage their accounts.

Full and transparent access to payment plans – the first of its kind in the UK – will help customers understand the implications of their payment schedule, and avoid overpayment, underpayment and, ultimately, debt.

British Gas customers can now:

  • View their actual versus forecasted usage (in both kilowatt hours and cost)
  • Check the status of their payment plan and likely year-end balance
  • Increase or decrease their monthly instalments
  • Make one-off payments
  • Request refunds

New status indicators, using a red / amber / green system, will show whether a customer’s payments are in line with their usage, and will help the customer determine the amount by which they should increase or decrease their monthly payments to keep on track.

Customers can amend the amount of their instalment at any time, request refunds of partial amounts without affecting instalments, and make one-off payments at any time of their choosing.

Customers will also have access to all their payment information, and will be able to review and amend their bank details.

Unveiling the new online direct debit toolkit, Managing Director of Energy at British Gas, Ian Peters, said:

“We know that household budgets are under pressure, and that our customers are keen to keep the tightest possible control of what they are spending and when. That’s why we’re now offering customers new ways to manage their direct debits, helping them avoid overpaying when they don’t need or want to, but remain on track over the year and avoid the inconvenience of underpayment – or, worse, debt.”

British Gas has now begun writing to all its 2.8 million online users to highlight the new flexibility and support available.

Before the launch of the new online tools, British Gas’ direct debit customers were already benefiting from market-leading account features, including the option of payment holidays and the ability to set up direct debits online

Notes to Editors:

1. New online control for energy customers – what it looks like
2. A fairer deal for energy customers
  • British Gas recently announced a series of industry leading moves to help make buying energy more simple, transparent and fair for consumers.
  • Last month, British Gas set out the first in a series of changes and benefits for its customers by:
    • Making it easier for customers to buy their energy with just two simple tariff types - fixed and variable
    • Helping customers save money on a better deal
    • Including a full breakdown of the costs that go into providing energy on customer bills, including green levies and company profits
    • Taking the lead on the facts about the future of energy prices in Britain; to support this, British Gas has launched a new advertising campaign
  • These are the first stages in the lead British Gas is taking to win back the public's confidence in the energy industry
  • British Gas will continue to make further improvements to improve simplicity and transparency for customers in the domestic energy market over the course of the next six months; further details will be announced in due course
  • British Gas offers a range of help and support to all its customers who might be struggling with their energy bills, with flexible payment plans (British Gas helped more than a million customers spread and manage their payments last year), and free energy efficiency measures, like loft and wall cavity insulation
3. More convenience for services customers
  • British Gas is also offering greater online convenience and control to its services customers, who can now book, track and amend annual service visits and breakdowns online or via smartphone. It means customers can confidently track the status of their appointment from the moment it’s booked all the way through to when the engineer is planned to arrive
  • Customers can arrange engineer visits for servicing and repairs to boilers, central heating systems and home electrics by going online or using a smartphone, and early feedback is very positive

Media contacts:

  • British Gas – 0800 107 7015