Ombudsman demands apology for pub

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British gas, Money

Hot issue: host Steve Roberts must pay £1,100 each month
Hot issue: host Steve Roberts must pay £1,100 each month
The Energy Ombudsman has demanded an apology from British Gas for the way it treated a licensee who was hit with a £12,000 bill.

The Government's Energy Ombudsman has demanded an apology from British Gas for the way it treated a licensee who was hit with a £12,000 bombshell bill.

However, host Steve Roberts said the Ombudsman should have gone further because he is still stuck paying £1,100 per month and a "goodwill payment" of £150 made little difference.

British Gas sent the bill after a technical error meant he'd been underpaying over several years. Part of the shortfall, £6,000, was because his money had been sent to an account in his name that had been closed.

Monthly bills soared from £240 to £2,847. After complaining to British Gas, the supplier reduced them to £1,100 and offered £50 as an apology.

But Roberts said the figure was still too high and could force him out of business.

Roberts approached the Ombudsman, who was appointed a year ago to resolve disputes with suppliers, which are legally bound to take part.

The Ombudsman criticised the "shortfall in customer service" and said the error "may well have continued if it had not been brought to British Gas's attention".

But it ruled that monthly payments of £1,100 should remain and it demanded a "goodwill payment" of £150 to the licensee.

Roberts, of the Plough Inn at Nuneaton, held on a private free-of-tie lease, said: "I wanted the Ombudsman to say I wasn't treated very fairly. But he has come down on British Gas's side."

Roberts said the bills mean he'll struggle to pay his £3,000 monthly rent. "This time next year I don't think our business will be here," he added.

A British Gas spokesman said: "We apologise to Mr Roberts for the errors made on his account and are trying to make the resulting bill as affordable as possible by spreading it over two years."

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