Gas meter mix-up sends gas bill soaring

BAFFLED Felix McGrath opened his gas bill to find that it had shot up by 700 per cent - because British Gas were using the wrong scale to charge him.

A MIX-UP over measurements left a bewildered gas customer fearing for his bank balance after a change of supplier saw his bill soar by nearly 700 per cent.

Felix McGrath was left steaming when British Gas salesman’s promises of big savings resulted in a £396 quarterly bill—way above the £50 a quarter he was used to paying for the central heating and hot water and at his one-bedroom flat.

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This week, after several calls by Mr McGrath to the supplier proved fruitless, enquiries made by the Advertiser revealed that a simple mix-up had seen him charged under old-fashioned imperial measurements, rather than the metric readings given by his meter.

British Gas has now apologised and promised to adjust Mr McGrath’s bill to take the mistake into account.

"I knew something was wrong and I called British Gas several times and told them so, but they always insisted that the bill was correct,” said the unemployed Whiston resident.

“Although I was preparing to pay the bills there was no way I was going to be able to afford to keep it up at that rate for very long.”

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Mr McGrath moved to British Gas after a salesman contacted him by telephone around six months ago and suggested that he would achieve lower fuel bills with the firm.

But he said that he was later left desperately trying to get someone at the firm to acknowledge that there was a problem after receiving his giant quarterly gas bill.

He said: “Every time they called they said everything was in order. They even got me to check the meter over the phone to see that the numbers were right, and they appeared to be.

“I knew how much I normally paid though and I knew I was paying way over the odds for a one-bedroom flat.”

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It was only after a call to his previous suppliers, NPower, that Mr McGrath discovered the cause of his inflated bill.

He explained: “The woman who I spoke to told me to look on the meter to see if there was an ‘I’ or an ‘M’ marked on it. I looked and there was an ‘M’ on the meter.

“Then she told me to look on my British Gas bill and look for the same thing. “When I said there was an ‘I’ on the bill, she explained that I had been charged under the wrong measurements.”

British Gas had been charging Mr McGrath believing that his meter was recording cubic feet when, in actual fact, it was a newer type of metric meter which records cubic metres—leaving him paying way over the odds.

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BBC’s TV Watchdog programme has found that the clerical error is becoming increasingly common as more than one million imperial gas meters are changed to metric examples each year.

This week Emma McDonald, from British Gas, apologised for the mix-up, adding:

“When Mr McGrath transferred to British Gas, the meter details provided by the national database were incorrect and he was billed for an imperial meter instead of a metric meter.

“We have amended his account so it won’t happen again and have re-billed him for the correct amount, which he has agreed to pay.”

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