On the 7th December I wrote an article about the terrible miss-selling practices that I had witnessed British Gas engineers employ in order to get me to part with £150 to £250 to purchase a Hive smart thermostat. I was shocked that 5 different engineers advised me that I would need to have Hive installed to replace my faulty thermostat instead of replacing it with a free analogue model, which was similar to the thermostat I already had.
After some investigation I discovered that British Gas engineers were indeed able to replace the thermostat with a regular replacement, however as engineers are given incentives for upgrading customers to energy saving alternative including Hive, every engineer who visited my property chose not to inform me of the free option.
Following on from my complaint to British Gas I spoke to Margaret in Customer Relations who arranged for an engineer to visit a week later and replace the thermostat. She seemed far less concerned with my report of miss-selling and got most of the details incorrect, but eventually she agreed to report the issue and offered me £50 compensation, which I accepted. This experience did however leave a bad taste in my mouth and at this point my opinion of British Gas as a supplier who cared about its customers was at rock bottom.
Given all that had taken place I was surprised to receive the following blog message from Laura, in British Gas PR:
My name is Laura and I work in the PR team at British Gas.
Firstly I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a tough time with our company – I’ve got two small children (mine are aged 1 and 3) so I completely understand that the last thing you need with a little one is more stress in your life.
You’ve brought an important issue to our attention. I want you to know that we’re taking this seriously and we’re looking into this now.
As it’s Christmas and you’ve definitely not had the best experience with us, I’m going to pop one of our Christmas hampers in the post to you. It’s full of Christmas goodies – and includes a cuddly Wilbur and our Hive Active Lights – so I hope you’ll enjoy unwrapping it and baby will enjoy looking at the lights!
This was a lovely gesture, both to publicly acknowledge a need to look into the matter and to think of a thoughtful way to improve customer perception. The hamper, when it arrived, was quite simply amazing! Full of sparkly lights and a cuddly toy for Grumpy Baby, other goodies for the rest of the family and a hand written note from Laura.
Although the important thing was to have the thermostat replaced so that Baby wouldn’t be chilly, there is a lot to be said for the positive impact a thoughtful gesture can have on a customers perception of a company. I very much hope that British Gas are aware of what a star they have in Laura as she has gone a long way towards making this Grumpy Mum feel quite cheerful.