Founded in 1812, British Gas is the UK’s biggest energy supplier. With over 12 million homes connected to their service – with their main operations being in gas and electrics, as well as general utilities. Among their other products are repairs and maintenance for boilers, central heating, plumbing, drains and home appliances. A lot of this comes under the British Gas HomeCare brand. The company is owned by Centrica, and use Scottish Gas as their trading name in Scotland.
One of the main issues encountered by British Gas over recent years has been the rising costs associated with energy bills, and the resentment that this has created from customers. Though the company regularly posts record profits, most peoples electrical and gas bills are consistently on the rise. Though other companies – notably, the other members of the “Big Six”, EDF Energy, E ON, npower, Scottish Power and Southern Electric – also suffer from this backlash, the fact that British Gas was publically owned under the 1970s means that people sometimes feel even more cheated by the company.
The company has a wide base of customers, offering both utility services to the home and services for businesses of all sizes, too. Though their main energy comes from natural gasses, the company has also started to work with renewable energy sources, attempting to drive down the cost of energy for a budget-conscious customer base, as well as providing greener energy for future generations.
Much of the company’s brand plays off the fact that they are a well-known and respected name, and British Gas are particularly proud of their customer service. Much of this stretches into the HomeCare brand, which acts as a sort of emergency service for your home – for a flat fee, a repairmen will be sent out to deal with most of your home emergency issues. The success of this side of the has led to competitors springing up – notably, The AA launched their own Home Emergency Response service to try and take a share of this market, but have thus far been unsuccessful.
One problem that many people have with British Gas – and, indeed, many utilities companies – is the opinion that they essentially have no option other than to be a customer, and are powerless against constantly rising prices. Though there are various ways to save money, it can often be difficult for the consumer to feel as though they are getting value with their energy bills. Of course, there has been much in the press about the old and the poor not being able to pay their bills and being left cold and without power.
Of course, one problem facing utilities providers – British Gas are included in this – is that the country is getting increasingly energy hungry, with an ever growing number of appliances dependent upon electrical power. One example is the number of mobile phones among the general population, as well as computers, tablets and laptops making companies reliant on power. This, teamed with the falling levels of fossil fuels remaining on the planet, means that we are eventually heading for a problem. Though many have complained for years that we should be shifting to a more viable method of powering homes and business, this has been a slow process.
The company has been involved in a number of controversies, however. Their marketing was called into question in November 2012 when the Information Commissioner’s Office noted that their unsolicited phone calls were cause for concern – with call centres harassing members of the public over the phone in order to try and get them to change providers over to British Gas and other Centrica owned companies. British Gas disputed this, saying they only got in touch with people if they had the express permission to do so.
British Gas Customer Service – 0843 504 0041