My letter to British Gas – 25/09/13

I have been asking BG to release us for months as their charges are just too much. They say they can refuse even if there is just 1p of debt. Our debt is considerably bigger than 1p but if they had released us earlier we could have had a good chance of having a big chunk of it paid off by now. They know also that I have ongoing mental health issues yet continue to make and break agreements on their part as they see fit. I am hoping that writing this email and blogging it will make them a little more accountable than they feel they have to be (which has been zilch up to now!) Here’s the email…
Dear British Gas,
 
I am Sarah Tomkins and I am authorised to speak to you re this account. I know and accept we have a debt and we want to pay it off but we have no money as our tax credits have been stopped and my partner is on a zero hours contract with very little work coming in. I have informed you in previous telephone calls about my illness which is depression and how it is getting worse due to our financial struggle but apart from some gentleman querying whether I was fit to be a parent you have not provided any help and instead chose to refer us to a collection agency who wouldn’t deal with me because you failed to tell them I was authorised to deal with this account. This has made my mental health much worse, which could have been avoided had you listened to me as a person and not a £ sign. I was even so desperate to stop the bill from rising because I knew I couldn’t pay it I asked you to cut off my supply which you refused to do ensuring you kept me in the spiral of debt with no way out. You said my only other option if I could not pay in full would be a pre-payment meter with my debt being paid off through that. You also told me that if I had a meter installed I could not leave British Gas until it had been in place for a substantial length of time. 
 
I have tried to keep the heating off and the gas and electricity to a minimum but I now have a very poorly 2 year old with the flu and 4 of us have been ill with sickness/tummy bugs and I think it’s down to trying to minimise using utilities.
 
I have previously asked you to release us from British Gas and you have repeatedly said no. I am now begging you because I wake up every day feeling sick, anxious and tearful. I cannot live like this and my children don’t need to see their Mother like this. I want to pay off my debt with you but if I remain a customer, with your pending price hike, that will never happen. I have the chance to switch to a collective system where I can get my utilities cheaper, this will mean money will be available to clear my debt on a regular monthly basis. If you can release me I am willing to set up a credit union account and set up a regular direct debit/standing order at a reasonable amount so you know exactly how much and when you are getting your money, I can get back on track financially and concentrate on my mental health, and we don’t have to have anything to do with each other once it’s done (I’m sure that would benefit both of us!).
 
Peterborough is doing a collective switching scheme and it is currently open to register. As you have recently begun a partnership with Peterborough City Council (Heataborough) with the intention to help relieve and tackle fuel poverty I would hope that your good intentions would extend to helping me and my family with our situation. Can I count on you to look on us as a family and not an account or a £ sign and do the right thing please? If you cannot help then please do take it to court (and let me appear to defend myself) sooner rather than later so I can at least tell the court I tried to resolve it with you.
 
I am going to blog this letter on my blog because I want to a) be able to keep track of my situation for therapy purposes and b) hopefully show people that you are committed to helping your customers when it comes to fuel poverty.
 
Many thanks for reading,
 
Sarah Tomkins
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