British Gas' announcement that it will charge customers who take more than a month to pay their bills has led to fresh calls by industry experts for customers to switch to another supplier.

Recently, British Gas announced plans to charge customers GBP5 if they fail to pay their bill within 28 days. The company justified the charge by stating that it was to cover administrative costs involved in chasing customer payments.

However, British Gas is the only major UK energy supplier to have such a charge and industry watchdog Energywatch has interpreted the move as a punitive penalty not a cost-covering measure and has therefore condemned the charge and urged customers to avoid it by switching to another supplier.

The negative publicity is the latest in a string of occurrences in which British Gas customers have been urged to leave the company. While the accusation of poor customer service is a popular reason, the top motive is the fact that British Gas is the most expensive UK energy provider across most of its tariffs.