Ofgem has launched an investigation into British Gas following “extremely serious allegations” of debt collectors breaking into people’s homes to install prepay meters.
The Times launched an investigation into Arvato Financial Solutions who were hired by British Gas to pursue debts.
Arvato has been accused of breaking into peoples homes after obtaining an High Court warrant to fit prepayment meters into home ignoring the clear signs that disabled people were living at the addresses and signs that children also live there.
The energy regulator’s spokesperson said, “These are extremely serious allegations from The Times. We are launching an urgent investigation into British Gas and we won’t hesitate to take firm enforcement action.
“It is unacceptable for any supplier to impose forced installations on vulnerable customers struggling to pay their bills before all other options have been exhausted and without carrying out thorough checks to ensure it is safe and practicable to do so.
“The energy crisis is no excuse for unacceptable behaviour towards any customer, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances.”
Centrica who owns British Gas said in a statement after The Times broke the news story, “all warrant activity” has now been suspended and protecting their vulnerable customers is an “absolute priority.”
During The Times undercover investigation, they claimed that Arvato staff were also incentivised with bonuses to install the meters.
Centrica CEO Chris O’Shea said, “Protecting vulnerable customers is an absolute priority and we have clear processes and policies to ensure we manage customer debt carefully and safely.
“The allegations around our third-party contractor Arvato [Financial Solutions] are unacceptable and we immediately suspended their warrant activity.”
Arvato Financial Solutions told The Times, it “acts compliantly at all times in accordance with the regulatory requirements.”
A spokesman told the paper, “If there has been any verbal or any other type of misconduct by individual employees, we deeply regret it.”
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