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British Gas ‘frighten Harlesden pensioner into paying towards energy bill’ even though she’s not a customer

13:31 23 September 2016

May Redley, from Harlesden, was wrongly billed by British Gas and panicked by threatening letters set up a direct debit to pay it. Picture credit: Adam Tiernan Thomas

May Redley, from Harlesden, was wrongly billed by British Gas and panicked by threatening letters set up a direct debit to pay it. Picture credit: Adam Tiernan Thomas

© Adam Tiernan Thomas

A bungling energy company frightened an elderly pensioner from Harlesden into paying £30 towards a bill sent to her despite her not being a customer.

May Redley, of Harlesden Road, set up a direct debit with British Gas after receiving the demand for £144.35, despite being an EDF prepay customer.

The 65-year-old, who has lived in her one-bedroom council flat in for 11 years, told the Times she was scared into doing so as she feared her energy would be cut off.

She said: “When the first bill came here last year I tried to explain to them I’ve never done business with British Gas, I get my gas from EDF, but they ignored me.

“Because I wasn’t paying, they sent me threatening letters. I was so frightened because I live by myself and I was worried they would come and send someone here so I set up a direct debit.

“They took £30 out of that. Thank goodness my niece Johanna Thomas visited and she helped me and phoned them up.”

“Right now I’ve cancelled my direct debit, I haven’t heard from them. I don’t know what’s going on.”

Ms Thomas said: “I rang them and they said ‘she’s not with us, it must have been a mistake’.

“How many elderly people get these letters? At that age you get frightened, she paid £30 she was so scared.

She added: “Don’t just pay straight away, look into it. Some people have no-one to talk on their behalf, they just panic and pay.”

A spokesman for British Gas said the £30 would be refunded.

He added: “When Mrs Redley contacted us to point out the mistake more than three weeks ago we quickly rectified this and apologised.

“Mrs Redley has never been a British Gas customer. The error occurred when an account was set up for her address in error when the supply was in fact for a neighbouring flat.

“We are writing to her to offer a goodwill gesture.”

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