Politician raises concerns over changes to Scottish Gas top-ups
CHANGES to the way Scottish Gas customers can top-up come into force tomorrow.
The utility firm has ended its prepayment contract with provider PayPoint and signed a new deal with the Post Office and Payzone.
Smart Pay As You Go customers can still top-up online or by calling an automated phone line.
The move has prompted outrage from Moray's MP Douglas Ross, who has been contacted by angry constituents.
He said they will have fewer places to top up – down nationally from 39,500 to 24,500 – and a lack of notice was among concerns.
As part of the changes, the minimum vend has also increased from £1 to £5.
The parliamentarian said: "I’ve been contacted by constituents who are angered that the payment option they’ve used for many years has been withdrawn and they will have to go to their local Post Office or the vastly reduced number of outlets utilising Payzone, or top up online or by telephone.
"Yet again a large national company has seemly given no thought to those who live in more rural or scattered communities."
The MP has written to Scottish Gas, which is a division of British Gas, to ask what customers with no transport or online access should do.
He said: "Not everyone uses online systems to pay for, or top-up their pre-payment cards. This is another example of a big company making changes that suit them, but not necessarily their customers."
A spokeswoman for British Gas said the service had been dual-running between December and January, allowing customers to find their nearest Payzone/Post Office location.
She said: "It is vital that our customers are able to access this important service and we are working closely with Payzone to ensure that we meet the demands of our customers.
"We have undertaken an analysis of the areas impacted by the change and Payzone has committed to work with British Gas to increase its reach in areas where we foresee we will need additional services.
"We also have a number of services available for any customers who struggle financially with this change. We can offer discretionary credit to those under financial hardship.
"We have specialist call centre agents to help anyone struggling to advise them on how to access the help they need. We also set up the British Gas Energy Trust as an independent charity that offers advice, assistance and grants to people who are struggling to pay their bills."
You can visit the British Gas website for information on where to top-up.