Two sisters say they feel “harrassed” by British Gas after the energy company threatened to send in the debt collectors to settle the outstanding bill of their recently deceased mother. Eileen Montgomery, from Morpeth in Northumberland, died in July 2022 at the age of 89. Ever since her death, her two daughters Catherine, 60, and Jo, 49, have been trying to pay off her last energy bill, but have been hampered by a wave of letters from British Gas which do not provide a correct final total.
Despite sending the company three meter readings, the sisters received 11 bills quoting amounts ranging from £1,600 to £310 – all of which were incorrect.
To add insult to injury, British Gas then sent them five letters threatening debt collection.
One of the appointed debt collectors, the Arvato agency, even demanded payment of £249.27 from the bereaved family.
Catherine, who initially took charge of settling her mother’s final accounts, described the whole process as “utterly ridiculous”.
She said she had received more than 20 letters and bills from British Gas, with each bill quoting a wrong amount and therefore making it impossible to pay the outstanding charge.
The 60-year-old told Chronicle Live: “Every single bill they have sent me has been wrong, despite sending them three meter readings, and it has been impossible to pay it.
“We just want the bill sorted and paid so we can move on.”
She added that her mother was a loyal customer of British Gas and paid her bills on time, was never in debt to anyone and would have been mortified by the current situation.
“We feel harassed by British Gas and have no intention of ignoring the bill, which is why we have been trying to sort it,” she said.
“To make things worse, some of the letters are written to our mother as if she was still alive and is refusing to pay, which is extremely upsetting to us.”
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Catherine said the final straw was when the family started to receive solicitors’ letters accusing them of being in dereliction of their duties as executors of their mother’s estate.
The letters came despite the sisters having been in direct contact with British Gas’s bereavement team, whom they described as being the “most unsympathetic and rude people” they had ever spoken to.
British Gas said they have been in contact with the family to apologise for the misunderstandings.
A spokesperson for the company said: “Our Bereavement Team were there for Ms Montgomery when we were informed that her mother had sadly passed away.
“However, multiple bills based on estimated readings were sent by mistake.
“We’ve reached out to Ms Montgomery to say sorry for any upset caused during this difficult time and we’ve sent a new bill that has been adjusted to accurate meter readings.”
The owners of British Gas, Centrica, saw their profits rise to record levels in 2022.
Over the company’s full-year, adjusted EBITDA profits hit £3.3 billion for last year, more than triple the £1.04 billion it made the year before.
The energy giant reported an adjusted operating profit of £2.8 billion – considered the biggest profit in the company’s history.
Several energy firms, including Shell and BP, have seen record earnings since oil and gas prices jumped following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.