Man ‘wrongly charged nearly £1,000 for monthly gas bill’ after being switched to British Gas

A man has claimed his Christmas Day was “ruined” after discovering he was wrongly charged nearly a £1,000 for his monthly gas bill by British Gas.

Marcin Wojcik, 37, claims he was incorrectly estimated £923.45 for his monthly gas usage at his new home in Broxburn in Scotland in October, after his supply was moved to British Gas from People’s Energy before he moved in.

Last month British Gas customers told i they had mistakenly been given annual bill estimates of between £22,000 and £46,000 by the energy company after being moved to it when their supplier People’s Energy went bust due to the gas crisis.

Energy regulator Ofgem is switching the millions of customers whose supplier has gone bust to a new firm through the “supplier of last resort” process and any previous credit is transferred.

British Gas said there had been a mistake in the customer’s data which had been shared with it though Ofgem’s “supplier of last resort” and had put in “additional processes” to ensure its systems “pick up any anomalies”.

But Mr Wojcik, who lives in the three-bed home with his wife Paulina and their two-week-old son Alexander, was horrified to discover on Christmas Day that cash had been taken from his bank account via a direct debit he set up to pay his energy bills.

The ScotRail ticket examiner believed British Gas had made a “terrible mistake” with the bill – but was unable to contact the company to query it because phone lines were closed on Christmas day.

He said he spent most of the day worrying he would be unable to pay his family’s household bills and barely slept before he was finally able to contact British Gas on Boxing Day.

Mr Wojcik told i he was informed the bill was generated in error due to it being provided incorrect meter reading from Ofgem.

“It basically ruined my Christmas,” he said.

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“I have a two-week-old-son. Finding out something like this on Christmas Day is not nice when we are spending our first Christmas together as a family. It was a bit of a surprise.

“I found out in the evening and it was a bit of a disaster. I even called the British Gas emergency line. I thought there was a gas leak outside my home and I had no idea about it.

“I have been with British Gas for several years at my previous address. Now I am going to watch closely what they are charging me for. It really worries me that this could happen again.”

Mr Wojcik said he checked his online account earlier this month and saw he had been estimated £49.70 for his gas bill, before it was recalculated at £923.45, but he was not aware of the new bill until Christmas Day when he logged back into his account.

He said British Gas has promised the cash taken will be refunded and that Mr Wojcik would instead be billed £110 for his gas usage based on a reading from his smart meter.

British Gas told i Mr Wojcik’s bill was incorrectly estimated due to an “error” in the initial meter reading sent from Ofgem and it has reassured him his “refund is on the way”.

A spokeswoman for the company said in a statement: “We’ve been working hard to help stabilise the market following the multiple supplier failures that we’ve seen due to irresponsible practices and poor business models.

“As a responsible business we’ve stepped in for many of these customers who have found themselves without a supplier through Ofgem’s Supplier of Last Resort process, and we do rely on the data that we receive.

“If there’s an error in the information, we will of course put things right, as we have done for Mr Wojcik. We have spoken to him today to reassure him of that.”

It comes after news that households could face the threat of their bills doubling in a year, according to The Times.

It is understood Ofgem sent estimates to ministers this month stating the price cap was set to rise by 40 per cent in April unless action was taken, with average bills reaching more than £1,800.

It is claimed analysts now predict that the rise, which is set by Ofgem could be more than 50 per cent – meaning households could face bills of above £2,000 – almost double the amount from 12 months ago based on average use.

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