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Scottish Gas stings late payers

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Customers of Scottish Gas who fail to pay their bills on time will be fined under a new penalty scheme to be applied by the company.

Consumers who have not settled their account and paid the full gas price or electricity price within 28 days of being sent their bill will forfeit £5, a move the company said would help make up the millions of pounds it loses each year chasing late payers.

The company has assured vulnerable customers that they will be exempt from the scheme and that the move has been taken in response to rising costs when recovering money.

A Scottish Gas spokesperson said: “The £5 charge reflects our costs in following up customers’ debts and is an approach similar to that taken by many other companies, like BT, though we will not be applying the charge to vulnerable customers.”

He continued: “We are informing customers who pay us by cash or cheque, offering advice on how to avoid the charge and the option to switch to a regular payment scheme to cover the cost of the gas price and other energy needs.”

But industry regulator Ofgem said that people who did not like the proposal to levy a £5 fine could “vote with their feet” and find a cheaper supplier.

An Ofgem spokesperson said: “There is a sufficient variety of companies out there to ensure that people can easily look for a cheap utility company that does not levy a late payment fee.

“Our studies have shown that if you are still with Scottish Gas for your gas and your local supplier of electricity, you could save anywhere between £100 and £150 by moving supplier, so the advice for consumers to get cheaper utility bills is to shop around.”

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