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back to article Judge rejects Accenture appeal against £182m lawsuit

A preliminary appeal brought by Accenture against British Gas was rejected last week, after a judge ruled that a £182m lawsuit connected to the failure of a new billing system shouldn’t be obstructed. As a result of that ruling the case will now be heard in court in October next year. It was first brought by British Gas in May …

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FAIL

Buy Jupiter!

...said Acidenture to the britsh gas giant, "It will save you loads-a-money, whilst providing a 360' view of your customers, the services and goods you'll be able to offer and that you've billed them for - But only with this system!"

"Right you, are!" said the british gas giant "...and here's £400m to keep you going..."

The british gas giant thought about it for a while, then after specifying evermore ridiculous additions to the system found that it's vision to be the gas, electricity, telephony, credit/finance one-stop-shop was in serious need of some AA-like roadside assistance. Not only that, but the british gas giant also realised that it was being stalked and at serious risk of being gobbled up by a russian gas giant that had latched on to the scent of monetary life blood draining out of its british rival.

The british gas giant realised, nearly too late, what was about to happen and, decided it rather liked being the british gas giant sooooo much, it would have a change its "everything in the home" mantra to "back to basics" - In a flash, it became just another energy provider, pulling in the cash from its asset sales of "non-core" business so that it could fend off the russian pretender - The british gas giant also checked its counting house and noted just how much Jupiter was costing and how little it was delivering...

The british gas giant had a chat with its friendly lawyer about returning Jupiter and getting it's money back into the counting house. The lawyer thought about it and decided the best approach would be honesty: Jupiter isn't gas-like, its made from snake-oil...

Anon

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Anonymous Coward

they never learn

British Gas had a long and inglourious [sic] business relationship with A. Who supplied the earlier generation of (equally poorly thought of - by customers and staff alike) billing systems. Not only did they not learn from that but they kept going back and buying more from A for so many of their new projects that it became embarrassing to watch. I'd say they were an ideal match for each other.

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I think you have missed out the true genius here

You'll probably find it was the Accidenture consultants who persuaded British Gas to be "Business Transformation"ed into some orrible quad play utility virtual operator and then, as a by product managed to slip them a big sloppy bucket of SAP to help them sink, the genius was in persuading them to sell candy floss and donkeys, not the SAP sideline. Of course, as you point out, sooner or later even the muppets in charge of British Gas worked out that was a dumass idea (about two days after the bankers decided it wasn't trendy any more and the share price went south). Of course the same consultants can now charge the new British Gas management even more money to tell them the exact opposite and that they need a "Core businesses" strategy which they could help them write...

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Anonymous Coward

What?

OK, I'm not a developer but...

Meter-reading B - meter-reading A * price per unit

Isn't this really rather a simple thing to do, so far as computing problems go?

How incompetent would one have to be to get it *very* wrong?

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Happy

Not simple enough evidently...

Presumably you meant (Meter-reading B - meter reading A) * price per unit

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Anonymous Coward

Well, it depends...

Which you are calling a, and which you are calling b!

Just because a precedes b in the alphabet, does not mean that, in my example, reading a occurred earlier in time than reading b.

Hmmm... I wonder if it was me that wrote that system!

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Stop

Actually it's quite complex unless you are talking about domestic customers

and the gas companies don't give a toss about domestic customers, because contrary to popular misconceptions, they don't make any money from them, just from heavy industry.

Billing of gas (and electricity for that matter) on an industrial scale IS actually quite complex.

It would not take a great deal of incompetence to make an expensive mess of it.

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Anonymous Coward

even domestic accounts are quite complex

"gas companies don't give a toss about domestic customers, because contrary to popular misconceptions, they don't make any money from them"

they most certainly do make a profit out of domestic customers. roughly £xxx,xxx,xxx (nine-digits) a year just from selling them gas and once you've got them for one product, theres lots of follow ons you can get them for, such as dual-fuel deals. . there is quite a lot of complexity in working out the bill too. such as what tariff each customer is on, how much of each billing cycle they've been on it, what the calorific value of the gas the customer used was (as that determines its price), what correction to apply from any estimated bills, what date the meter readings were and if there are any corrections to apply from a particular make/model of meter reading high/low, whether the customer inserted their own readings through the website, whether there are any arrears payable or payments to be reimbursed, what dual-fuel discounts apply, are they paying monthly, quarterly or whatever and the list goes on.

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Gold badge

important early stages

“We are pleased with the progress of our claim against Accenture. Both the High Court and the Court of Appeal have now found in our favour during these important early stages,” said British Gas managing director Phil Bentley.

So these are important early stages in a companies bid to get redress for the losses caused by (another) botched implementation of SAP. And yet these "early" stages have already been to the high court, and the court of appeals, yet won't actually be heard until October NEXT year?

IANAL but that cannot be right can it? God help any company that is struggling because of the losses caused by another!

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Anonymous Coward

seem

Seems all those golf games and expensive dinners given to Centrica management didn't result in a working product.

What a shame.

HAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAAHAHAHAHAHA

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Anonymous Coward

My heart bleeds

In my experience Accenture are the consultancy equivalent of ambulance chasing lawyers, it's just a pity that £182m isn't likely to hurt them too much.

Though it's hard to have any sympathy for any major corporation as they're all in it for themselves. Somehow I doubt any compensation British Gas gets out of this will in any way benefit their customers.

Anonymous cos I used to work for one of the organisations mentioned in this article.

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Flame

What would be interesting to know

What might be interesting to know is how much of BG's midle managers changed the spec of the system while it was being built. A lot of problems in large scale projects come from the target getting moved all the time by the client.

Then again, Accenture could also just be really crapy. That's what you get when you outsource everything to get it "cheaper".

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WTF?

i left 'em

'cos they were incapable of providing any degree of useful customer service. The systems being poor does not account for the abilities of the people on the phones transferring you to incorrect departments and not knowing the first thing about anything you had mentioned on the previous call, and being mahoosively unwilling to help in any way whatsoever..

/rant.. with apologies..

i would be rather amused to find the spec for the systems presented for implementation were entirely divorced from the expectation they had of the function/product sold..

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Bronze badge
Megaphone

BG systems borked long before 2006

I have been trying to get a £0.32 bill cancelled since 2004. I dont have any gas!!!

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Bronze badge
Happy

that's nothing

Another company, powergen (now part of E.ON) billed me ~700 pounds for using their network for 2 years - but I'm not connected! I wonder who built their billing system ...

Luckily they got off me back when I politely suggested that one would expect they should know actual name (they charged me as a "customer") and address (they used address of a construction site where my house was built on) of the customers they connected to the gas network. But not before they started threatening me with the courts ...

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really?

Surely they were threatening the non-existent person named Customer with courts?

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Was it wise to contact Accenture?

You'll get a reply and also get a bill for the costs of typing and for the number of inconvienced electrons.

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FAIL

Sap?

that explains it.

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late payment

This explains a LOT!

Over the last bank holiday weekend I received in this order.

just before the weekend the bill.

Payment made just after the long weekend - we had gone away like many peeps.

just after the weekend a "notification of disconnection" - sent a few days after the bill arrived!

then a late payment reminder after we had paid - sent the day after the disconnection notice?

Then a few days later some special offers send the day after payment rcvd - we phoned to confirm payment rcvd and when.

BG droid also mentioned that although we had paid, it takes a "week or so" for the system to "take notice" and we may get some more threatening letters but to ignore them.

Thankfully none arrived.

deffo moving to anyone other than BG!

The only "threatening letters" I ignore are those from the BBC hired goons (we dont have a TV).

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WTF?

British gas are not so bad....

I have noticed since the beginning of the recession that utility companies are getting harsh calling in overdue payments...

I switched TO British Gas from Scottish power after a bill that was overdue by 3 days got the attention of the call centre staff and I received over 30 phone calls in 4 days and even after the payment was showing on the system I received more phone calls, followed by some scruffy goon from "scot cal" to collect the payment. Which they then tried to charge me for the goons visit....

I have gotta say, United utilities have to be the most useless....

After paying an outstanding bill I asked, "is there any more outstanding payments due"..

The cupid stunt on the end of the phone said "no, there is nothing outstanding, the account balance is zero"

two weeks later I get a letter from united utilities threatening to cut my water off and inform environmental health to shut my business down because I didn’t have water....

after getting on the phone to them it appeared that a bill was issued the day before I had made my last payment over the phone... the reminder to pay it was sent out the same day the bill was sent out, and a week later the nasty threatening letter arrived.... the original bill never arrived, the reminder never arrived just the threats..... I was told that it was my responsibility to get in touch with them because I knew the bill should have been due and hadn’t arrived.....

My language was foul.... I would switch water suppliers, but you can’t....

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FAIL

2 big fail players

SAP == FAIL

Accenture == FAIL

SAP + Accenture = Fail Whale

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Anonymous Coward

Finally, someone willing to stop the IT greed machine

Accenture and other large IT companies have ripped-off Private sector and Public sector for years. They should be becoming more productive and efficient with every project they deliver, but it never happens because profit is the motive not their good health and business growth of their clients. Supplier power of IT companies has cost all of us. Unfortunately, even the current Government does not have any real ideas how to deal with these very powerful and unethical organisations.

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Anonymous Coward

Remind me (I moved out)

Current government is the Tories, no?

Isn't it likely to include a few directors of said IT companies?

Actually, , seeing as how NU-Labour was just another brand name for tory, they probably had them too.

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IT Angle

IT greed machine???

This is accenture we're talking about.

Where's the IT in a bunch of accountants dressing up in sharp suits to fool a bunch of middle managers in to paying them way too much to rebadge some internal documents?

/rant

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Gold badge
Thumb Up

Seems to be 2 truths, 1 lie

Truth

It cost a packet

Truth

It caused a lot of erros

Lie

That's why so many customers left us.

I think people comparison shopping for lower utility prices *might* have had something to do with it.

Thumbs up for the start of someone drawing the line (like Sky) but *honestly* do you like *either* of them?

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Gold badge

ERP pains

@Thad, from what I've heard about these ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, complicated! These systems are for those who are allergic to writing any custom code. So, instead of doing any "coding", consultants "integrate" module after module to do what the customer wants. They'd have a module to recall meter reading A, a module to receive meter reading B, a module to subtract, a module to retrieve that result, a module to print the bill, a module to process the payment, and on and on -- any of which could have bugs that the integrater is expected to work around. If they spend enough they end up with a working system, but I have heard in essence the integrating is SOOO complicated, probably they would have come out ahead coding from scratch.

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Anonymous Coward

@Henry Wertz 1

Henry, you could not be more correct. I am currently working on replacing a bill system for an Australian company. Big blue and big red are implementing a big red product and the level of customisation is so high, if they'd started from scratch it would have been finished a year ago and cost a 1/4 the amount.

Every day I come to work and am amazed at how many people are working on this project.

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds...

Sounds horrible.

Why on earth do customers fall for buying this stuff?

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Alert

When will they learn?

Third party development nearly always ends in deadlines being missed, expensive patching for years afterwards and redundancies for staff who could have built it themselves more competently, loyally and after all the third party cock-up expenses, more cheaply.

There's always some idiot in a pinstripe suit who thinks he knows best.

That's where the real guilt lies.

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WTF?

Should be the BG procurement dept getting sued by shareholders

Anyone other than the CXOs of BG and the procurement department could have told them exactly what they would get. It is the BG management (no doubt frantically retiring with golden parachutes right now) who bought SAP from Accenture who should be being sued. Accenture did exactly what you would expect them to do. Excuses of "the man with the top hat and wand from Accenture said...." are not admissible, when your 12 year old tells you that they will just die if they can't go to Alton Towers you don't believe it, only a fecking idiot would, now about believing the claims of management consultants about IT systems.....

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Grenade

It should happen more often ..

It would be a wake-up call to crappy suppliers who bid low, charge through the nose and then don't deliver, together with stupid purchasers who are not prepared to pay the real price of an IT system and usually don't understand what's involved and then get taken for a ride.

Most of the IT industry lives in a make believe world where bids and contract negotiation have no bearing on the reality of what is actually required or how much anything costs. The sooner this industry sorts itself out so that it proposes services, products and capabilities at a price that allows them to be delivered, instead of kidding people, the better.

And on the flip side, the purchasers need to wise up to how much this stuff really costs and not believe that they can screw their suppliers into the ground and change their mind every 5 minutes.

If you think that bankers aren't in touch with reality, the IT procurement world cannot be that far behind ...

Normal service will now be resumed ...

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Gold badge

Not in the IT industry

"Most of the IT industry lives in a make believe world where bids and contract negotiation have no bearing on the reality of what is actually required or how much anything costs."

Not true, these companies are not in the IT industry, they are in the consulting and outsourcing business -- BIG difference. I doubt you'll find a SINGLE IT person recommend these companies -- who recommends them are some executives after they are wowed by a nice presentation, and fire the IT staff.

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