After British Gas profits grew from £100m to £1bn in the first half of the year, it defended its practice of sending agents to break into customer homes to install pre-pay meters, questioning if people thought they did that to make LESS money.
Despite mounting pressure on the energy giant for their behaviour, executives have insisted that price gouging, ‘breaking and entering’, and profiteering go hand-in-hand in a modern capitalist economy.
Executive team member Simon Williams told us, “Look, you can’t expect perfect behaviour in an oligopolistic marketplace where ‘competitors’ can put up their prices by over 100%, increase their profits by a factor of ten into the billions, but then don’t have the power to force customers to pay the new prices. What did you think would happen?
“That we would simply accept poor people not paying our new extortionate prices? We have shareholders, and profit forecasts and bonuses to think about, you know? Do you think we’d have made so much money if we just let poor people accumulate ever bigger outstanding balances while they try to keep warm?
“Honestly, the thing I’m most surprised by here is that anyone is surprised by us increasing our profits this much. At the last board meeting, I suggested taking customer valuables to cover any arrears when we break in to fit the pre-pay meters, but I lost the vote 6-5.
“I’ll try again in the autumn, and see how the shareholders feel about my idea if it looks like we won’t make £1bn again in the second half of the year.”