Consumers have overwhelmingly voted to bestow British Gas with the Money Mail’s ‘Wooden Spoon Award’ for the worst overall customer service in the UK during 2009.
The energy giant received the dubious honour from the Daily Mail’s consumer affairs service after a poll of more that 10,000 UK residents gave it more votes than all of the other 153 shortlisted companies put together. In fact, it received more than two thirds of all votes cast and many respondents also included long letters to accompany their entry, outlining their experiences.
Retired film location manager Edward Anderson summed up many of them when he received a shock bill for £2,006, the Daily Mail said. He spent hours trying to get through to the firm’s call centre and when he finally managed it, was told that the bill was correct. After a battle, the bill was revised to just £28.50. Anderson has now switched suppliers.
Phil Bentley, who heads up the utility company, told Money Mail that it was always going to get more votes because it handled 12.2 million customers, more than a third of all energy consumers. But the Mail pointed out that HSBC has 15 million customers and had received no votes.
Britain’s most irritating call centre, meanwhile, was BT, which was last year’s winner of the overall customer service award. The telco has 37 call centres, two of which are based overseas.
But customers were unhappy at having to press endless buttons to speak to the correct staff member, at continually needing to explain the same problem to different personnel and of not being able to understand what agents were saying.
The award for the longest time to solve a problem, however, went to South East Water, which took two years and nine months to sort out a straightforward billing problem. Orange won another for the most pathetic excuse.
Rob Ford from New Milton in Hampshire called the mobile operator to report that he had lost his broadband connection. He was told that: “The engineer did not report back and so we suspended your fault. We will have to close your fault, which will take two days and then set up a new fault.”
When he explained the problem for a second time, he was offered the following advice. “Have you tried moving your computer closer to the ‘phone socket?’
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.