British Gas opts for Payzone over Paypoint for top-ups
British Gas customers who pay their bills over-the-counter may have reduced options for paying from January 2020 after the energy giant’s new deal with payment processor Payzone Bill Payments Limited.
What does the British Gas / Payzone deal mean?
Customers who currently use the Paypoint system will be switched over to the new provider after December 31st.
Payzone, the new processor for British Gas, is owned by the Post Office Group.
Patrick Headon, CEO of PayPoint, announced in June that the company had been unable to agree appropriate terms and decided not to renew its long-standing contract following “extensive negotiations”.
“After a long and mutually beneficial partnership, it is disappointing for PayPoint and British Gas customers that we have been unable to agree a renewal of our contract,” he said.
The new arrangement means British Gas customers will need to go to a Post Office branch or Payzone store to do all their over-the-counter transactions, a change which may be inconvenient for some people in rural areas, the elderly or other people with reduced mobility who may have difficulties altering their current routine or finding alternative locations close by.
Is this better for customers?
Payzone became part of the Post Office Group in 2018. The acquisition meant the 13,000-terminal Payzone network was added to the Post Office’s 11,500 branches.
While British Gas customers could already pay their British Gas bills and top up their meters via the Post Office, the new deal means customers can pay their bills at any Post Office or Payzone facility.
Unfortunately, that means they will have a choice of only around 24,000 locations to pay their bills at, rather than the 28,000-strong network they enjoyed under the Paypoint contract.
Debbie Smith, Post Office Retail Chief Executive, said the news of the deal was “fantastic” and that the group was “delighted to continue building on our long and successful relationship with British Gas.”
“This is also great news for our postmasters and partners who deliver vital services in our branches and Payzone outlets across the country,” she said.
They will see more customers coming through their doors as they come in to make their regular payments. (Debbie Smith, Post Office Retail Chief Executive)
Andrew Goddard, Managing Director, Payzone Bill Payments Limited, called the deal “brilliant news for Post Office and Payzone retailers alike.”
“I am delighted that we have continued to strengthen our partnership with British Gas,” he said.
Our appointment demonstrates the breadth and depth of our reach, and the value we provide to clients and their customers, and shows how we can drive customers to the Payzone and Post Office networks. (Andrew Goddard, Managing Director, Payzone Bill Payments Limited)
What kind of service can British Gas customers expect to get from their new payment processor?
Judging from the feedback on consumer review site Trustpilot, the vast majority of customers who have had dealings with the company have had very positive experiences.
Out of the 6,658 reviews on the site at the time of writing, 83% of people left an “Excellent” rating of four and a half stars out of five. Five per cent gave the processor a rating of “Great”.
One percent of reviewers said the company was “Average” and the same number rated it as “Poor”. The remaining 10% evaluated their experience as “Bad”.
The positive reviews often mention the good customer service they had received and frequently name the Payzone agents who assisted them. Negative reviews usually have a response from the company asking the customer to get back in touch to resolve the situation.
What about Paypoint’s feedback on Trustpilot?
The difference here is quite stark. Paypoint has managed to attract just 13 reviews at the time of writing. Of those, 15% of reviewers rated the payment processor as “Excellent”.
Zero percent gave it a rating of “Great”. “Average” and “Poor” both attracted 8% of reviewers, while 69% were of the opinion that their interactions with Paypoint were “Bad”.
Most of the written reviews are quite scathing, detailing various problems with the firm and its failure to resolve them successfully. Paypoint staff do respond to the negative reviews and ask the reviewer to contact the company again to address their outstanding issues.
Much of the critical feedback comes from retailers who had installed the system in their businesses, perhaps shedding some light on why the company and British Gas are parting ways?
Although 13 reviews is not a great sample to base a strong opinion on, the fact that Payzone is meanwhile able to motivate 6,658 people to leave feedback is telling in itself.
Is there an alternative to using Payzone?
Of course, Payzone is not the only way to manage your British Gas accounts.
The company’s mobile app for Android and iPhone lets you pay bills and monitor your account balance. The British Gas website also allows you to top up your account. Or, if you prefer, you can top up by telephone.
Patrick Headon, CEO of PayPoint, made an interesting suggestion to customers affected by the change: switch energy supplier instead of switching payment processor.
“Customers can continue using PayPoint outlets to top up their prepayment meters by switching to a broad range of alternative suppliers which can be found on our website. (Patrick Headon, CEO of PayPoint)
How many British Gas customers are willing to take him up on his offer would be interesting to know.