‘I can’t sleep because British Gas says my gas bill is £11,000 a year’

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Dear Katie,

Last June a British Gas engineer came to do my annual boiler survey and said it should be replaced. While I waited for a new one, I was told to keep use of it to a minimum, which I did. The new boiler was installed at the end of September.

On October 4 I took a meter reading, but the account would not accept it. It generated a message saying the new reading seemed too high and should be checked. When I did so, I was horrified to see my usage had dramatically increased over the summer. It made no sense as I had barely been using it.

I asked British Gas for help and it raised a complaint on my behalf. Since then, there have been no telephone calls, only emails.

Then a British Gas representative called on me to examine my meter and the new boiler. He said he was unable to check if the meter was working properly, took a reading, and suggested three reasons for the huge increase in recorded gas usage.

The first was a faulty meter, the second was that the meter had a temporary fault but had corrected itself and the third was that disconnecting the meter from the old boiler and connecting it to the new one had caused something to go haywire.

At the moment, British Gas is estimating my annual gas bill will be in the region of £11,000. I am so worried about this I’ve had trouble sleeping and have lost weight.

–JD, via email

Dear Reader,

Considering you’re an 80-year-old widower who lives alone and is on the British Gas protected services register for vulnerable adults, the way you’ve been treated here has been completely appalling. What you needed was support over the phone and reassurance that this extortionate bill was being looked into. Yet this has not been provided.

Following my involvement, a British Gas engineer came to check the central heating system. He found that everything was working well. The meter was also read with no suspected or visible faults found. A reading taken at the time suggests the usage had stabilized.

The company telephoned you and offered to adjust your meter readings to match last year’s usage, removing the high meter readings from March 2022 to October 2022, and saving you thousands of pounds you clearly never owed in the first place.

The reason why your bills went haywire remains a mystery, but one thing’s for sure: this is yet another unacceptable failure by British Gas.

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