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E.ON apologises after incorrectly billing customer for £78k

By Katie Anderson on April 23, 2012

Energy firm E.ON has issued an apology after sending an incorrect bill to a customer. Although clerical errors of this kind are far from extraordinary, the size of the mistake managed to attract the attention of the national media; indeed, the customer had been asked to pay £77,815.85 for gas supplied to a property in Peterborough.

The bill was sent to Neil McGregor-Paterson, head of Realitas Community Arts Centre. The charity typically spends around £30 a month on gas central heating, so Mr McGregor-Paterson was understandably surprised to receive an estimated bill of just under £900.

The charity worker explained: “They said because our previous payments had been estimated, we owed £876.43. We simply couldn’t afford that, so we turned off the heating and everyone was sitting around in their coats”.

Mr McGregor-Paterson became hopeful when he noticed an error on the bill. Charges had been applied for gas used before the charitable organisation had moved in to the property. Calling E.ON to explain the mistake, Mr McGregor-Paterson expected a resolution to the problem when the energy firm promised to review the bill.

Mr McGregor-Paterson said: “They sent people to take two new readings and I also had to give them three of my own over the phone”.

E.ON duly amended the bill, but not in a way that might have been expected.

“When the revised bill for £77,815.85 arrived I almost fell off my chair. Luckily I have a strong heart”, Mr McGregor-Paterson added. “It’s about time the electricity suppliers made reading their bills easier and with all their resources, get their readings right”.

E.ON amended the bill for a second time, issuing an apology to Mr McGregor-Paterson alongside a demand for £27.21.

The charity worker commented: “That was more like it. I have since worked out that it would have taken the charity 2,859 months to whack up a bill as high as £78,000 based on our usual gas consumption”.

Mr McGregor-Paterson’s ordeal is hardly the first time energy firms have erred on pricing. All energy users in Britain are advised to check their meter readings on a regular basis. It is also sensible to inform suppliers of new readings whenever necessary. Smart meters can be used to check that bills tally precisely with electricity usage.