Pub hosts suffer bill blows

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: British gas, East sussex

Out of the blue: big bill shock for licensees
Out of the blue: big bill shock for licensees
Licensees are still suffering the after-effects of receiving huge out-of-the-blue utility bills, with monthly repayments soaring to "unmanageable"...

Licensees are still suffering the after-effects of receiving huge out-of-the-blue utility bills, with monthly repayments soaring to "unmanageable" levels.

The Morning Advertiser continues to receive emails from hosts who are furious with British Gas Business for landing them with onerous repayment plans.

London host Helen Rayner, who was sent a bombshell gas bill of £21,780 last month, has been told her monthly repayments will rise from £2,000 to £3,040. The sum includes her monthly consumption, plus the back-payment owed.

Rayner, Wellington Pub Company lessee of the Sun

in Hounslow, Middlesex, said British Gas said consumption had been under-estimated.

"They said it was because of increased usage, but there hasn't been any. I've been here for 12 years and I don't do anything differently."

East Sussex lessee Michael Mercer received a out-of-

the-blue bill of £22,800 in April 2008, with British Gas saying it had under-estimated consumption.

Mercer is paying the supplier £1,000 per month, which includes the costs for ongoing usage. His debt has now soared to £31,000.

"It was a mistake — they read the meter as a five-digit meter, not a six-digit meter," said Mercer, of the Smuggler in Pett Level, near Hastings. "I worry if I will get through this winter because I know I won't be able to keep up the £1,000 per month."

A British Gas spokesman said: "When an underpayment issue has been identified, we work closely with the customer to find an appropriate solution, in-cluding payment plans. These are developed in partnership with the customer to ensure the level and time period is suitable.

"We advise any customer who is struggling to pay their energy bills to contact their supplier as soon as possible as a range of options and solutions are available."

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