Home Finance British Gas 'billing chaos' as customers sent demands for £2,000

British Gas 'billing chaos' as customers sent demands for £2,000

Customers of British Gas have accused the company of sending them wildly inaccurate energy bills which appear to miscalculate energy use by as much as 1,000 per cent.

Many of the problems appear to be linked to the transfer of the accounts to a new billing system.

Errors appear to have been made during the transfer process, largely due to inaccurate energy use readings being inputted during the transfer.

One customer who lives in a two bed flat told the Guardian that she was sent a quarterly bill in March for the first three months of the year for almost £2,000, which was some 1,000 percent higher that the same period last year.

The woman customer has a smart meter and usually pays between £70 and £110 a month.

The stunned British Gas customer, who has not been identified, said the huge bill arrived despite the fact she had not changed her living habits in any way.

She faced a nightmare when trying to resolve the situation with a series of calls to customer service.

“It is causing me so much stress and lost sleep,” she said.

“Every time I open a complaint, I receive a response that firstly ignores any of my questions about how my bill could be so high, secondly uses the same stock phrases and makes me think it is written by a bot, and thirdly tells me the complaint has now been resolved as everything is in order,” she said.

It subsequently emerged that British Gas had an issue with the transfer of the account to its new billing platform.

It was revealed that the customer’s gas meter reading had been wrongly recorded on the new system and she had been billed for months’ worth of energy that she had already paid for.

It appears that the customer is one of many who have suffered similarly frightening bill demands.

One couple were told they owed £1,919 for a month’s worth of energy in January. The bill was amended to £77 when they complained, but in April they were charged £1,259.

The husband said: “We live in a small retirement flat and for the last three years have used two Dyson heaters rather than our gas central heating to save money

“Last December, British Gas updated its system and the new app showed energy statements for the last 12 months which were up to 1,100 percent higher than the amounts we’d actually paid.”

British Gas discovered that it had entered an erroneous meter reading on the new system. It then emerged that the couple actually owed just £195.

Another customer reported that her accounts and bills started going haywire after her account was changed to the new billing system in December 2022.

She told Guardian Money: “Statements under the old account number showed I was £1,525 in credit and this was confirmed twice over the phone over the next seven months,.

“We had moved out of our house in April 2023 and were promised the refund when it was sold that September, but instead we received a final bill for £1,594.”

She complained to the industry ombudsman who ordered British Gas to recalculate her bill.

In March this year, the company informed her that she was, in fact, £2,650 in credit and promised a cheque within 14 days. It never came. Ten days later she received a demand for £1,449 and has since been told that she owes £3,000 and faces debt collectors.

A letter from customer services explained that the confusion arose when her account was transferred to the new system and that the credit in her statements was actually a debt.

British Gas said the billing errors stemmed from a faulty meter that was replaced in 2021 and insisted that her experience was unrelated to the new billing platform.

The company has now credited the customer’s account with £1,201, however she insists that she is still owed another £2,650. British Gas said it is still working to resolve the issue.

In 2017 British Gas was ordered to pay £9.5m in compensation by the energy regulator, Ofgem, after a new billing system left business customers with inaccurate bills. Ofgem said that it was monitoring complaints about the latest IT upgrade.

Ofgem said: “We are aware of this issue and have contacted British Gas to ask for more information about the scale of the issue and find out what they are doing to address the situation and protect their customers.

“We expect all suppliers to bill their customers accurately and when errors are identified they should be rectified as quickly as possible. To not do this is unacceptable.”

British Gas declined to comment on the record on the other cases.


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