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Case studies - Shockingly high British gas bill

A gas customer for many years, Mr S was surprised to receive a 'shockingly high' gas bill of £649.21.

But challenging the amount proved much harder than he expected. Mr S used gas just for central heating and hot water in his three-bedroomed home in Oxfordshire. As the bill he received covered four months of warm summer weather, he was keen to find out why he was being charged so much.

All the homes in his road had just been fitted with new gas meters. When the new meter was installed at Mr S’ house, an engineer gave him a reading for the old meter, but this was much lower than the reading on his next gas bill which arrived soon after.

While the engineer's card said the old reading was 14,707, his bill stated 17,047. Despite having evidence of the original reading, Mr S had to complain several times to the gas supplier before it sent a replacement bill – but this was for the same amount of £649.21.

Despite complaining again, Mr S received a final demand for the same amount. 

Which? Legal advice

Not knowing what to do next, he contacted the Which? Legal. We explained that he was obliged to pay only for the gas he'd used and advised him to complain to the company's senior management team. If that didn't work, he should refer the dispute to the energy watchdog Energywatch. Mr S sent a letter, detailing the change of meter and readings, to a senior manager at the suppliers.

Outcome

Within a week, Mr S received a revised bill for £59.46.