British Gas left pensioners with £2,000 bill too scared to turn on heating

Two pensioners huddle under a blanket to keep warm, reduced to a “Dickensian” standard of life by a British Gas blunder that landed them with a £2,000 bill.

Shirley, 78, and Keith Hudson, 80, say they are now too scared to put the heating on for long in their one-bed rented flat and ration cups of tea.

And when bailiffs contacted them during their three-year battle with the energy giant, Shirley was in tears.

British Gas knocked £1,000 off the bill after the Mirror got in touch, admitting an error.

But daughter Julie, who lives nearby in Bridlington, East Yorks, said the damage is already done.

She said: “They are so cold all the time, they just look grey and unwell.

“When I go round they are sitting in the dark. It’s too cold to even take my coat off. They are sat watching telly with a tiny camping stove, wearing big fluffy socks, dressing gowns and a fleece throw each.

"It’s like something Dickensian. I’d say this has aged them and made them ill, they are nervous all the time.

“I live in a five-bed house with teens yet my parents in their flat with a smart meter pay £2 a day more! There’s surely a fault. I’m so disgusted in the treatment by British Gas.”

The former publicans said their troubles began in 2015, a few years after switching to British Gas for electric and gas.

They initially had a bill for just short of £700, in addition to their £70 a month payment. They disputed it but continued making extra payments.

They said they were eventually told the account would be frozen and to stop paying while it was probed. But last month, they got the £2,000 bill.

Keith said: “This bill doesn’t belong to us. How British Gas have come to this conclusion is anyone’s guess. My wife’s diabetic and we keep the heating off until her feet and hands start hurting.”

Shirley, who also has glaucoma and bad circulation, said they have also been paying bailiffs £15 a month since 2015.

She said: “To make matters worse British Gas [told us] they weren’t aware of any debt agency.

"The whole thing is a shambles. Nobody listens, nobody cares. I’m not sleeping and the upset is making me so ill.”

British Gas said: “We’ve billed Mr & Mrs Hudson correctly. The balance is partly due to an error with an automated payment scheme process and their lack of any payments over the last year. We’ve applied a credit to reduce the bill. We’ve also been in touch to offer a payment plan.”

British Gas was contacted for comment on the bailiffs.

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