Gas letter misleading

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I RECENTLY received a communication from British Gas inviting me to sign up to an extra 5 per cent increase on top of the 18 per cent starting on August 18.

Allegedly this gives me peace of mind that I would not have a further increase for two years.

I sent back the form, not signing up to this, but writing across it that I thought this was a con trick. I was therefore very surprised to get a letter yesterday headed ‘Great news - your prices are protected for the next two winters.’

As in the original letter, a 23 per cent increase was not mentioned, just a ‘5 per cent premium’.

This letter was sent out on August 1, when many people are away on holiday.

I received it on August 4 - and you had to phone within seven days of the date on the letter to cancel.

I phoned and the woman I spoke to was clearly taken aback at what I told her and was unaware of this marketing ploy. The surcharge, which I had not asked for anyway, was cancelled.

Both the original letter and the follow-up letter spoke only of a 5 per cent ‘premium’ and of ‘peace of mind’ and ‘reassurance’.

Nowhere did it spell out that the customer would be signing up for a 23 per cent increase instead of 18 per cent over the next two years.

I feel people who may be vulnerable could misinterpret this letter and sign up, so any warning that can be given through the press to think very carefully first would be very welcome.

Veronica Hardstaff, Northfield Court, S10