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wow! read all that and its amazing! We too are being pursued for a debt of £800 in our old property. So have started enquiries today with a cca...see what they reply..but, just to let you know the letter we had from the dca didnt have our correct names on it, can i plead ignorance that no one at the address lives here by that name as it is not us?..

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From The Sunday Times


May 11, 2008



British Gas sues Accenture over billing ‘shambles’



Dominic O’Connell and Iain Dey



div#related-article-links p a, div#related-article-links p a:visited {color:#06c;}CENTRICA is suing the global consultancy group Accenture for £182m over an IT system it claims reduced British Gas’s customer-billing process to a shambles.

The IT system, dubbed “Project Jupiter”, was the cause of the appalling customer service that lost British Gas hundreds of thousands of customers, a High Court writ from Centrica says. Centrica is the parent company of British Gas, which is the biggest supplier of gas and electricity to homes in the UK, with 12.5m customers.

At the height of the problems, British Gas employed 2,500 extra staff in an attempt to resolve the mess.

Centrica is expected to confirm it has begun the court action this week, when it holds its annual meeting and issues a trading update.

During 2006 and 2007 British Gas was lambasted by consumer watchdogs and the media over deteriorating standards of customer service at a time when it was increasing the price of gas and electricity.

The Sunday Times Money section led the campaign in highlighting its shortcomings, with hundreds of readers writing in to complain about incorrect bills. It is estimated that British Gas lost 1m customers in 2006 alone.

The writ says the problems could be traced back to 2002, when Centrica engaged Accenture to provide a new IT system. Project Jupiter was to bring together British Gas’s electricity and gas-billing schemes into one system capable of handling 250,000 meter readings and 200,000 bills a day. The price was £317m, with Accenture being paid from the £397m in savings that British Gas expected from the new system over a decade.

Various glitches arose, but the two sides agreed a revised contract in March 2006 under which Accenture provided guarantees that a software upgrade would work.

According to Centrica, it did not.

Even though only a third of customer accounts were at first transferred to the system, problems began to surface.

Inboxes, electronic queues where work was allocated to staff, filled up to the extent that employees were taking an hour to log on to their computers.

There were a host of related errors, the writ claims. The system generated a high volume of “exceptions” – issues with accounts that required manual intervention – and staff found it difficult to trace the root problem, leading to exceptions starting to “breed”. Staff inboxes became overloaded, with the system loading up to 200,000 items.

As well as shortcomings with the software, Centrica claims that Accenture provided inadequate computer hardware, did not integrate the system properly and failed to design it to provide adequate management information.

“The rapid rate at which exceptions were raised meant that it was impossible to recruit and train enough additional staff to deal with the ever-burgeoning problem,” the group claims. “These problems inevitably caused Centrica’s level of customer service and satisfaction to reduce dramatically with damaging effects . . . and Centrica lost a substantial number of customer accounts . . . It has caused significant damage to the British Gas name,” the writ says.

In February 2007, Centrica formally notified Accenture that it was in breach of contract. The gas company alleges it took the consultant three months to deploy a small group to look at the problem.

“Ultimately, the Accenture UK team provided no material information or assistance whatever to Centrica.”

A British Gas spokesman said: “British Gas has been left with no option but to pursue legal redress against Accenture to compensate for its losses.”

An Accenture spokesman said that Centrica “conducted extensive testing” on the system before it was handed over. He added: “We are confident, based on the facts of the situation, that this claim is baseless and without merit. Accenture will vigorously defend the High Court proceedings.

“Accenture delivered the system at the end of 2005. The system we delivered met all of our commitments and the specifications that Centrica set; it was delivered on the agreed timeline and budget.”







I was very much part of the Jupiter Programme and live through the ordeal caused by wrongly designed billing solution (SAP ISU 4.6) with choked up middleware(Seebeyond) and a bad front end( Siebel). Accenture conusltants were arrongant and Centrica IT Managers illiterates when it came to Sign-Off


Ajay Kumar, Ashtead, UK


I was very closely involved in this. If there is blame to be apportioned, my view is:

1) Centrica - 15% - the customer

2) Accenture - 50% - the SI

3) SAP - 25% - the s/w vendor

4) HP - 10% - the h/w vendor

It will be impossible to calculate and apportion penalties to each of the parties above.


RV, London, UK


It is funny there is no reference to the softare vendor itself: Specially when speaking about upgrade. I would never allow such a situation as a Vendor -- unless I was actually resp.; Wasn't the solution just not the right one? to have such an extravagant budget (300 M) is a gage of failure!!!!!


Dave, Madrid, Spain


We moved house in April 2007 we signed up for monthly direct debit of £95


Our debit was never asked for


Last year our gas and electric bill was £980 when metre checked


We said you can do things we pay slowly over 2 years or you give us a discount


We go 20% off..we paid happily immediatly


Nicholas Iles, Oswestry, Shropshire


Looks like organisations still haven't learned anything since the debacle of the London Ambulance Service computer system that failed abysmally back in October, 1992. How on earth we will be able to trust ID cards beats me. Our very identities could be compromised by cock-ups and corner-cutting.


Mike Mitchell, Spalding, England


Accenture are not what they make themselves out to be. A lot of flash with good marketing techniques but not so strong on the technical front. I am waiting to hear about their contributions to multi-billion pound NHS system and others http://www.publicpowerbc.ca/accenture-a-trial-of-failed-contract


A. Khan, London,


Glad to see British Gas is getting the service it deserves after being a serial offender in the customer care department for how many years ??


Juan, Madrid, Spain


I've often thought that if you could attach a micro-payment (say 1/10th of one cent) to each email as a kind of electronic postage stamp and the recipient's email program/spam filter could detect this and automatically discard anything else then the problem of mass junk mailing would be largely solved because their current strategy of mailing 10’s of millions people hoping for a .00001% response would then no longer be economically viable. It wouldn’t stop the more “legitimate” spam from organisations that thought it worthwhile to pay $1 to reach a 1,000 people, but a step in the right direction. From a normal email user’s point of view, sending 250 emails a week, say, this would only cost $1 a month in “mailing” costs to ensure your email arrived and was accepted by its recipient


nigel, panggbourne, UK


The problem goes back to the 90s when Accenture (Anderson Consulting) low balled everything, especially to BG who thought they were unique and knew best. They deserve each other. Pity the customer - the who?


Alf Thurgrate, Romford,


Fundamental principles of programme and/or project management, be it applications or infrastructure in IT:


20% in Analysis

20% in Design

30% in Build

30% in Test & Release


this is ignoring the Initiation and Production Implementation. Customer involvement high in Analysis & test.


Jagadish, Bromley, UK


Yorkshire WATER - Yorbill - 'it works'


MAPA, Yorkshire, England


Anyone daft enough to pay £317 million for a piece of software deserves everything they get. No wonder they're keen to externalize the embarrassment.


David Masu, Zürich,


Most IT projects fail because of inadequate business requirements and testing specification by the client and a poor understanding of the business by the supplier. This seems to be a classic case.


Mahesh, Middlesex, U.K.


Deja Vu... A different profile of Business and IT partnership is needed to deliver to customer an business needs. 'On time and to budget' is irrelevant from the customer point of view if the quality of the end to end solution was not good enough.



Tony, Surrey, UK


Try calculating the cost of electricity over a period with Click Energy. There is such a complicated formula involving the first 500 Kw at one tier (calculated in proportions on a daily rate) and then a second tier at another rate, minus a direct debit discount that has an upper limit - impossible!


sk, Eastbourne, England











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ould this be helpfull ?

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Evry1,

Well its finished with. BG have settled with me out of court. Not because of the chance of me getting compo for the stress they caused me, as stated before ; you cant get damages for stress. I think they have settled because of the above case.

The initial hearing wa on 2nd May, the case was then adjourned for papers to be served by both sides ( disclosure). It was originally listed for hearing after 1 July. Papers had to be served by bith parties prior to 30th May. This we did, both sides. BG were at that time still pursuing me for the alleged debt of £419. Part of the bundle of papers I served on BG was the above mentioned case. Centrica V Accenture. I heard nothing further from BG until 16/6/08, when they served an additional statement on me , allegedly to prove that I owed the "debt". I did not respond, being fully willing to go through the full hearing on 3rd July. On 1st July , I received a letter from BG solicitors making me an offer- which I cant talk about. What I am going to say next I CAN talk about. Why did they make me the offer at the last moment. WELL, I think it is because of the above case. My opinion is that because new information had come to light as a result of the above article in the Sunday Times, I would be allowed to make an ammendment to my information for compensation; under the slip rule. That would mean that I could get compensation from BG, as part of their compensation that they are seeking from Accenture. They did not want my case to go to a full hearing risking me getting damages under these circumstances, because that would them open the flood gates for other people to apply for compensation because of this case. Well there you are. My "alleged" debt has been cleared and I have received damages - all be it without prejudice. So anyone else having this type of problem take note of my mistakes. Dont go for damages for stress. Go for damages under the Data Protection Act and also use the case of BG v Accenture as evidence as well. AND GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL.



Edited by scousegeezer
Incorrect info
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Congratulations! Have followed all they did to you and think it is ridiculous they were allowed to persecute you purely for money - and the reason they have finally backed down is in case it cost them more money.....disgusting.


That must be a huge relief, well done ; )


Must have a dig through to 2 cases you mentioned - what was it about them that has given the likes of BG free run to persecute people with, as you say, complete impunity? Very worrying.


Again - well done!!!!!



I am in no way a legal advisor and only speak from my own experiences and the helpful advice of those in the same boat! :p

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