On the same day British Gas announces that energy bills will rise by ten per cent, it launches a question and answer campaign for its customers on Twitter. But it perhaps hasn’t gone quite to plan.
Our Customer Services Director Bert Pijls will be taking part in a Q&A about our price rise at 1-2pm. Tweet your questions using #AskBG!
— British Gas (@BritishGas) October 17, 2013
It hasn’t been the best of days for the British Gas public relations team. The firm has announced it is to increase prices for domestic customers, with a dual-fuel bill going up by 9.2 per cent from 23 November.
The increase, which will affect nearly eight million households in the UK, includes an 8.4 per cent rise in gas prices and a 10.4 per cent increase in electricity prices.
We know people are worried about rising energy prices and they want to talk about this – including on Twitter – and it’s important we’re there for them to talk to. British Gas
So it may not be the best time to invite Twitter users to ask the company about the rises.
However, British Gas announced this morning that “our Customer Services Director Bert Pijls will be taking part in a Q&A about our price rise at 1-2pm.
“Tweet your questions using #AskBG!”
Thus followed a range of comments from the profane to the funny.
Hi Bert, which items of furniture do you, in your humble opinion, think people should burn first this winter? #AskBG
— Lee Vincent (@LeeJamesVincent) October 17, 2013
— Cal Loftus (@calloftus) October 17, 2013
What’d happen if an energy company hiked bills by 9.1% during longest fall in living standards since 1870 then asked for feedback? >> #AskBG
— Owen Jones (@OwenJones84) October 17, 2013
Is it cheaper for me to burn £20 notes than put the heating on his winter? #AskBG
— Mark Meddings (@meds1973) October 17, 2013
#AskBG what exercise is best to keep elderly people warm this winter? And when you were kids did you have a conscience?
— Daniel Jillings (@djillings) October 17, 2013
The firm did try and answer some of the more sensible questions.
After an hour of less than positive messages, this tweet came from the official account:
“Thanks for participating, I am now signing off, the @BritishGasHelp team will be here until 10am to answer any further questions #AskBG”.
A spokesperon for British Gas said: “Our announcement today is difficult news for customers. We didn’t make this decision lightly.
“We know people are worried about rising energy prices and they want to talk about this – including on Twitter – and it’s important we’re there for them to talk to.
“That’s why we offered a Q&A session with our customer services director. It was the right thing to do because we are committed to being open and transparent with our customers at all times.
“We also want to make clear rising prices don’t have to mean rising bills and there is help available. More information is available at www.britishgas.co.uk/myenergy.”