British Gas triggered fierce backlash yesterday after it launched a Twitter chat the same day it announced a 9.2% price hike.
Using the hashtag #AskBG, the energy giant was besieged by over 16,000 tweets, most of which were far from sympathetic.
As well as angering customers who will have to dig deeper into their pockets this winter, British Gas attracted scorn from leading politicians and public figures.
Here’s what key critics of the price hike had to say:
The Prime Minister described the price hike as “disappointing”, adding: “But there is something everyone can do, which is look to switch their electricity or gas bill from one supplier to another.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said the move was “cruel”.
“Never mind the dilemma about heating and eating, with the cost of both running so far ahead of incomes, the most needy won’t be able to do either.”
Martin Lewis, founder, MoneySavingExpert.com, said the price hike meant that many people would need to choose between “heating and eating”. He added: “This price hike is big, and is nasty.”
Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, said: “This is the company that, with Centrica, has passed on the highest share of its profits to its shareholders while at the same time making the least amount of investment into what we need to ensure our energy security in the future.”
Tom Lyon, energy expert at uSwitch.com, said: “British Gas customers have had the rug pulled from under their feet and I suspect that many will be feeling let down and betrayed.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Matt Owen, head of social at Econsultancy, said it was one of the worst PR disasters on social media he had ever seen. “It is a rotten PR fail … It is just ridiculous that they had set this up on the day of this huge price hike.”
However, British Gas’s managing director of residential energy, Ian Peters said: “I would not describe this as a PR disaster.”
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