'It was terrifying' - Woman's energy bill rockets by £8,000 a month
A North Yorkshire woman was left "terrified" after being told her monthly energy bill was rising by more than £8,000.
Gilly Collinson said she woke to an email from her energy supplier, British Gas, saying her monthly energy bill had increased from £137 to £8,492 - a rise of more than 6,000 per cent.
British Gas has since apologised, confirming that the figure in the email was a mistake.
Gilly, 67, said receiving the email had been a shock.
"It was terrifying, as if I'd been hit in the stomach with a shovel," she said.
"They weren't asking if they could take the money, they were simply telling me that they are going to.
"Like most people at the moment, I don't have that sort of cash. I knew it had to be a mistake, but I also know that mistakes can happen and can ruin people's credit ratings and lives."
Gilly said she had difficulty contacting British Gas on the issue - and that she was often given the message that the team was busy.
"This was very upsetting, but I couldn't get through to them at all," she added.
After managing to eventually reach and speak with the British Gas team members, they said they would get back to her in 24-hours. But four days passed and she had heard nothing - with her online bill still showing at more than £8,000.
"It's shocking that they could toy with people's lives and mental health in this way. It's been baffling and frightening and very, very stressful," Gilly added.
Eventually, the British Gas team looked into the issues with Gilly's energy bill and realised that a reading from the smart meter in her home had been recorded incorrectly due to an "administration error".
This generated an email which was sent in error and showed an inflated payment plan for Gilly from April onwards.
A spokesperson for British Gas said: "We’re sorry, as the email Mrs Collinson received was clearly wrong. We’re attempting to reach her to apologise for any distress caused and to reassure her that her direct debit has already been corrected and that her account has been adjusted in line with accurate meter readings.”
The issue was resolved before Gilly was forced to pay the bill of £8,492.
Gilly, who lives in Scarborough, said: "The figures on my bill are now within the realms of normality.
"I had the best night's sleep I've had for ages when it came through, which I'm sure is not coincidental."
Gilly said that she continues to worry about the rising cost of energy bills during the cost-of-living crisis and wonders how families are continuing to cope.
"The fact that in the 21st century people would be having to choose between keeping warm and eating or feeding their children is an obscenity that my generation could never have imagined in our youth," she added.