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

May Redley, from Harlesden, was wrongly billed by British Gas and panicked by threatening letters se

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 - Credit: Archant

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.”

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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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