British Gas stuns couple with whopping £57,000 energy bill for one-bed home | Personal Finance | Finance newsbhunt


A Brit couple was left stunned after they received a massive five-figure energy bill for their tiny one-bedroom home. British Gas told Katie Coyne, 60, and her husband Richard, 64, that they had racked up a £57,000 bill on gas and electric in a single month, and were given just weeks to pay the eye-watering sum despite their entire annual estimate being just £2,150.

Mr Coyne was forced to spend countless tea and lunch breaks attempting to reach a customer service agent – but failed to get through and had to keep dropping calls to the company. The couple was left terrified to turn on anything electric in their home in Devizes, Wiltshire for weeks, with Ms Coyne left “beyond livid”.

British Gas didn’t respond until they were approached by the press, and the firm has since apologised for the mistake. She said: “They say they’re sorry but that doesn’t work anymore. It’s just a joke.”

“We have a smart meter, so they should have accurate readings, but all our bills say they are estimates – it doesn’t make sense. We just pay them £180 a month because we think that’s about right and we don’t want to get into debt, but our bills don’t make sense at all.

“Sometimes they say we owe them and sometimes they say they owe us. This makes you feel so small – like you don’t count for anything.”

Ms Coyne, a retired cleaner and youth worker, and Richard, a machine operative on a building site, have rented their home from a housing association for 24 years.

Central heating with a gas boiler was installed to replace their storage heaters three-and-a-half years ago.

The couple have had various energy companies supply the property and switched to British Gas two years ago, and had a smart meter fitted.

Their bills, for electricity and gas, ranged from £62 to £201 last year, they said, and an engineer gave their heater the all-clear following a check earlier in 2024 before the £57,282.29p arrived on February 19.

Katie said: “I opened it and did a double take: I thought ‘you’re having a laugh!'”

Richard couldn’t get through to an adviser on the phone, despite multiple attempts, he says, and the couple even resorted to emailing the company CEO, without response.

They have priority status with the energy provider because of Ms Coyne’s health, but the retiree said they found it was “impossible to speak to someone”, adding: “They’re just hiding behind their screens. If we do get through they ask us to email and they say it will be sorted but it isn’t.”

“We’ve made six or seven official complaints. I’ve been at my wits end with this. I’m feeling really desperate about it. And we deserve to be compensated for all the stress and lost lunch breaks. We’re getting through this because we have each other but I worry that it could happen to someone vulnerable and alone.”

“I’m just really angry that we’re being ignored. They don’t seem to care about the impact on someone’s mental state. We have to watch every penny.”

“I just hope and pray that government and big corporations realise soon that they need people like us or everything will fold eventually.”

A British Gas spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry about this mistake, we’ve confirmed to Mrs Coyne that the bill was clearly incorrect.”

“She wasn’t charged, we cancelled the bill on the same day and took no payment. We will send her an updated bill shortly.”


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