British Gas has vowed to help a licensee hit with a "bombshell" £11,868 electricity bill after the MA intervened.
The supplier had demanded George Taylor pays the bill — which was due to consumption being underestimated since 2003 — immediately. It led Taylor to contact the Energy Ombudsman, fearing he would be forced out of business.
British Gas told Taylor, of the freehold Orange Tree in Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, that an investigation shows he had "consumed considerably more electricity than [he has] been billed for" between February 2003 and August 2009.
The letter, sent in August, said the problem related to meters that had turned back to zero after reaching 99,999. Taylor has been re-billed for "actual readings provided by the meter reader".
A follow-up letter 13 days later demanded the full payment of £11,868 within five days or a £40 late-payment charge would be added.
Taylor wrote to British Gas saying he has contacted the Energy Ombudsman and added: "It is not my fault that the meter has supposedly gone round too fast.
"I do not know what to do or where I am with this, other than the stress it is causing me. All I know is that I have paid what has been asked over the last six years then, out of the blue, this bombshell!
"For us to pay this will shut us down, putting six to eight people out of work, as well as finding somewhere to live."
The MA contacted British Gas and in response, a spokesman said: "We've apologised to Mr Taylor for the large bill and as a gesture of goodwill have reduced it by 20%, and removed all the late-payment charges.
"In addition, we've offered to spread the bill over 22 months as we appreciate this is a difficult time for licensees and the pub trade. We hope this will be acceptable to Mr Taylor and enable him to continue trading".