‘It’s a catastrophic failure,’ says dad charged £20,000 by British Gas after they ignored meter readings he sent them

A DAD who was billed more than £20,000 by British Gas has revealed his fury after the company admitted to “ignoring” his meter readings for months.

Keir Waugh, 38, from Whitby, North Yorkshire, was slapped with a handful of four-figure fines in 2023.

Keir Waugh is embroiled in a heated dispute with British gas over his bill


Keir Waugh is embroiled in a heated dispute with British gas over his billCredit: NCJMedia
Keir was billed more than £20,000 since October


Keir was billed more than £20,000 since OctoberCredit: NCJMedia

But the utility giant reportedly retracted those fees after local outlet ChronicleLive ran a story detailing the issue.

However, charity worker Keir was given a final bill of £1,016.61, despite British Gas using estimated meter readings on six occasions between April 2021 until September 2023 – with the seventh not being taken.

After lodging a complaint, British Gas conceded that they had “ignored meter readings”, according to ChronicleLive.

The company then rebilled Keir with the correct meter readings, and deducted £405 from his bill after their error.

Despite trimming the total, Keir questioned why British Gas haven’t cleared the payment.

“I’ve paid in good conscience, I’ve paid what the company have told me I owe them,” he said.

“I’ve provided the meter readings, I’ve done as a customer what I’m legally bound to do.

“British Gas has sent me a bill on the back of that. It’s not my fault two years later that they’ve made this catastrophic error and think they can call it in like that.”

Keir warned others to be vigilant and not get stung the way he did.

He continued: “It’s really important to stress at this point that when you provide a meter reading and log onto their app, you don’t have to look at your bill.

“You never see the word ‘estimated’ anywhere (on the app).

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“They have a fundamentally flawed system and it might be naïve on my part. But if they’ve acknowledge my meter reading then they’ve provided a bill, why would I then open it?”

“I’m frustrated that there are still no apologies for all the bills, but it’s now more of a worry because I’ve got to go to the Ombudsman, and they’ve given me 12 months to sort it out.

“I don’t want to be sitting here in six months and they say British Gas are completely in the wrong, but you still need to pay it.

“It’s them who have failed, and there comes a point where event as a utilities company, you have to accept your own fault.”

“We spoke with Mr Waugh in January to apologise,” a spokesperson for British Gas said in a statement.

“We reduced his balance, offered a goodwill credit and are providing advice on any further help and support that may be available.”

Back billing: What are the rules?

Your energy supplier might charge you for energy you’ve used in the past. This is known as ‘back billing’.

What are the back-billing rules?

You can’t be charged for gas or electricity used more than 12 months ago if you have not been correctly billed for it, or informed about it via a statement of account, before. This includes situations where a supplier increases your Direct Debit because it was set too low. Suppliers cannot use this to recover any shortfall for a period longer than 12 months ago.

Suppliers must make these terms clear in their contract terms and conditions.

The rules apply to household and Micro Business energy customers.

They may not apply if you have behaved obstructively or unreasonably, preventing accurate billing. This could include:

  • blocking meter readings at your property on more than one occasion
  • stealing gas or electricity.

What do I do if I receive a back bill?

Contact your supplier if you get a bill for energy usage that’s for more than a year ago.

Explain that you understand you are protected by the back-billing rules. You should only be charged for any unpaid consumption during the last 12 months if you have not had an accurate bill for this consumption before.

To help, use this Citizens Advice back billing example letter.

Make a complaint if your supplier continues to ask for the full amount.


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