I was unable to use the heating or hot water for TEN weeks after a UK gas supply error
A DISABLED British Gas customer has been without heating or hot water for nearly 10 weeks after his supply was suddenly cut off.
Richard Stevens, 56, from Aldershot, Hampshire, awoke to a freezing flat with no hot water at the end of January this year.
Richard was on an Economy 7 tariff with PFP Energy, which means he is charged a higher daily rate and a lower overnight rate for his electricity.
Its tariff used a smart meter to monitor its energy consumption.
But when PFP Energy collapsed on January 20, it moved to British Gas – and although the company has its own Economy 7 tariff, you can’t use it with a smart meter.
Richard had no way of knowing that his meter was not clicking on his nightly rate – this triggered an error with the system which completely cut off his nightly supply.
Richard and his wife Theresa, 55, remained frozen for nine and a half weeks – until The Sun intervened.
“I had noticed how cold it was – and we had no hot water in the mornings,” Richard said.
Suspecting British Gas had cut its supply overnight, he called the energy company in search of answers.
“I can’t count the number of phone calls I’ve made to British Gas about this – I was usually on hold for around 45 minutes and then moved on to between five or six people before they told me. hang up on them,” he said.
Eventually, a British Gas customer service employee promised to investigate what had happened.
But weeks passed, and despite Richard’s search for answers, no one explained to him why his overnight supply had mysteriously stopped.
Richard uses storage heaters – which are electric heaters that you can turn on during the night. These heat up at night when energy is cheaper and store the heat, which is then released during the day.
They are mainly used by customers with hourly rates – like Economy 7, for example.
Importantly, while they can help you get the most out of cheaper overnight fares, during peak hours they are more expensive to operate.
This meant that Richard could not afford to turn on his storage heaters during the day, as that is when he had to pay a higher rate.
A knee injury has left him with mobility issues, which means he has to stay home most of the time.
Therefore he needs the heating most of the time, especially in the colder months – but this year he had to turn off his heating during the winter because he just couldn’t get it. to permit.
“When we woke up in the morning, it was so cold in the apartment.
“I couldn’t afford to turn on the heating – it was monstrously expensive to run during the day.
“Most of the time I was sitting in a few dressing gowns.
“Being disabled and home all day, I need to stay warm, which storage heaters would normally do by charging overnight.”
The Sun has stepped in to ask British Gas to investigate why Richard’s nightly supply was not working – and why Richard had been left out in the cold for so long.
A British Gas spokesperson said Richard had an Economy 7 smart meter while a customer of PFP Energy.
This means that Richard has a meter with two different tariffs – one for the night and one for the day.
It clicks from one rate to another between peak and off-peak hours.
But as British Gas’ smart meter systems do not support Economy 7 supplies, Richard would have had to switch to a normal Economy 7 meter when he became a customer.
But that didn’t happen and Richard’s smart meter was never replaced with a normal meter.
As a result, his nighttime power supply stopped working because his meter was not switching to night rate at the appropriate time.
A British Gas spokesperson said: “The customer was transferred to us under the supplier of last resort process and an error occurred with their Economy 7 meter when they switched to us.
“We have now visited his property and resolved the issue so that he is up and running again with hot water and heating.”
Richard received a credit of £129 for the extra electricity he used while having to use his storage heaters during the day.
He also received £250 in compensation.
What to do if you have a complaint with your energy supplier
If you are having trouble resolving a problem with your energy supplier, you should report it to the energy ombudsman.
They manage disputes between customers and suppliers.
If you’ve tried to resolve a problem with your supplier and you don’t get anything, the energy ombudsman will review your case and see if they can help you deal with the complaint.
It helps with billing issues, installations and delays, loss of service, customer service and switching providers.
If they help you with your complaint, they can only charge you for 12 months.
This means you won’t be able to get help getting money back before then.
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