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25th Oct 2023

Couple who hadn’t paid for gas in 18 years left in shock after receiving £11,000 bill

Steve Hopkins

‘My worst fears about this have now come true’

A couple has been hit with a shock bill for almost £11,000 after being told they are in debt for 18 years’ worth of gas at their home.

Lee Haynes, 44, and partner Jo Woodley, 45, say they did “everything” they could to try and pay the bill after moving into a home in Tamworth, Staffordshire, in 2005.

But after nobody could work out whose responsibility the gas supply was the couple stopped asking.

Almost two decades on, the pair are now facing a bill of £10,824.87.

Lee, a school site worker, said the outstanding bill is “unbelievable – my worst fears about this have now come true.”

After moving into their home, the couple immediately tried to sort out the maintenance bills, but couldn’t get anywhere with the gas account.

Letters from the National Grid and their housing association, both dated in 2006, confirm the couple’s struggle to establish the source of the gas.

Lee and Jo then contacted the ombudsman who the couple claim told them to wait to be contacted.

Lee recalled: “It was very strange. After a few months we had bills for everything but not gas.

“I was worried about suddenly getting a big bill – so I tried really hard to find out who was supplying our gas.”

Lee said the housing association tried all the suppliers they deal with but had no luck. Then, the ombudsman advised them to “just keep the paperwork and leave it.”

Then, in March 2023, the couple got a letter from gas distributors Cadent saying they wanted to come and look at the supply to the property.

A follow-up letter from Cadent three months later informed the couple they owed nearly £11,000 for gas usage between 2005 and 2023.

An official invoice was served last month notifying them they had 30 days to pay.

Despite being presented with the bill, Lee and Jo say they still don’t known who their gas supplier was over the 18-year period.

They have since signed up with a major energy firm.

Lee said: “I just don’t understand.

“The 1986 Gas Act says they can recover costs if I’m at fault but I’m not. “Who would write in their calendar every year to try and find out who’s providing gas to their home? “We just got on with living there – like we were told to.

“I did everything I could. I didn’t want to just let the problem go. “After two years of trying really hard to find our supplier and trying to pay British Gas, we were told there was nothing we could do.”

Lee said the bill “would be fair enough” if the couple hadn’t tried to resolve the issue: “They can’t really expect me to keep trying for 18 years. There has to be shared responsibility for this.”

A spokesperson from Cadent said: “Whilst Cadent are not a gas supplier, as part of our gas transportation license we have an obligation to investigate and use our reasonable endeavours to recover the cost of any gas used outside of a supplier contract.

“Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, we must stress we have a specialist team who are on hand to offer help and support to customers who are required to make a repayment.”

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