Last week, British Gas took to Twitter in an attempt to justify its 9.2% price hike, with a hashtagged Q&A session that attracted a storm of angry customers and negative publicity in the process.
It was revealed on Thursday that there will be a 10.4% rise in electricity prices and an 8.4% hike for gas tariffs in a blow to some 7.8 million households.
The energy company’s customer service director Bert Pijls later took the reigns of their Twitter account @BritishGas and asked people to tweet questions using the hashtag #AskBG from 1pm.
Responses to the tweet ranged from “Bert is a brave soul” to “Hope you’ve got a strong drink ready”.
As expected,Pijls was soon swamped with hundreds of complaints and minutes later #AskBG became a trending topic on the social media site as the Q and A session turned to satire.
One user tweeted: “Which items of furniture do you, in your humble opinion, think people should burn first this winter?” #AskBG.
Another responded: “What is the best temperature to thaw an elderly relative?”
Despite the hashtag rapidly becoming a UK internet sensation, bosses still attempted to justify the price hikes.
Pijls responded: “We have cut prices four times in the past five years but the general wholesale energy trend is upwards.
“There are 3 reasons: 1. Wholesale price rises, 2. Improvements needed to pipes & wires 3. Cost of govt programmes.”
User @ClwbCardiff tweeted: “Given that over half of operating profit, £544 million, was made from residential supply in 2012, why so greedy???”
And then Pils hit back by saying: “every £1 a customer pays us, we make 5p profit.”
British Gas sent out a statement after the session had closed: “Our announcement today is difficult news for customers. We didn’t make this decision lightly. We know people are worried about rising energy prices and they want to talk about this – including on Twitter – and it’s important we’re there for them to talk to”
It said the Q&A was the “right thing to do”.
Following the Q and A session, Twitter users were quick to point out that British Gas were advertising for a new social media manager with a basic salary range of £50,000 – £60,000.
View the current #AskBG tweets below:
Tweets about “#askbg”