AN IRVINE man has blasted a gas giant after the company switched to a new payment system in the New Year.

Fergus Thompson, 59, complained that British Gas were now restricting payment options to customers using pre-payment metres after it switched from using PayPoint to a new Payzone system with the Post Office.

Mr Thompson, of Carmichael Place, said that while there used to be several shops within easy walking distance to make the payments there is now only two post offices in Irvine currently doing it since the changes came in.

British Gas signed a new contract with Payzone’s bill payment service – which is part of the Post Office – to serve prepay customers, replacing its existing agreement with PayPoint.

According to MoneySavingExpert, Payzone only has 13,000 branches throughout the UK – 12,000 less than the number of PayPoint branches available.

Fergus Thompson told the Times: “I am fuming with this, I don’t think they have looked at it at all.

“In Irvine it’s just the two Post Offices currently doing it, one in the High Street and in Bourtreehill.

“The closest one in Irvine says they can only take payment by cash and although they are open on Saturday they’re not taking payments on a Saturday.

“I was livid. They just suddenly switched without warning. They’re saying they told everyone about it but I never heard until I went in on the Monday.

“Although I’m retired I’m still mobile, I’ve got health problems but I am well enough to get about – but how is this going to affect older and disabled people? It’s not a good idea.

“Previously you had the shop at Fleming Terrace, at James Crescent, Anne’s Store and the Co-Op on Caldon Road, you had all these shops.”

A spokesperson for British Gas said: “We are continually reviewing our suppliers to ensure we get the best service and value for our customers and we decided to move this service to Payzone as part of this review. Ultimately, we intend that more of our customers will be closer to a top up point as a result of this change as Payzone has committed to adding new locations where we find a customer need - especially in rural areas.”

“If a customer finds they are now further away from a top up point we would ask them to contact us so we can double check this is the case. If we do identify a gap in our coverage then we would work with Payzone to add new locations in the area. The customer could also have a Smart Pay As You Go meter fitted so they could top up online or, if they are eligible, then we could install a credit meter free of charge.”