Running out of energy to deal with this British Gas mix-up

Final demands and a debt recovery firm sent in, as it insists I live in Glasgow when I’m in Hove

I am having a nightmare situation with British Gas that they seem unable to resolve. I moved into my home in Hove last December. British Gas was the provider, but I immediately switched to Octopus having settled my final bill. I later received a letter from British Gas stating that I owed money for gas and electricity. My surname was misspelled and the debt applied to an address in Glasgow.

I have never in my life been to Glasgow. British Gas blamed a computer error and told me the account had been cancelled, but more letters arrived about the same bill. I was again reassured that the account had been cancelled. Then came a red “final demand”.

Customer services told me it was a mistake and I should ignore it. I next received a letter from a debt recovery firm. I phoned but my date of birth did not match its records and I was required to send a copy of my passport. By now over four months had passed.

I contacted British Gas again and was assured that the issue would be resolved, but I’ve since received another letter from the debt recovery agent saying that British Gas has confirmed I owe the money and requiring evidence I don’t live in Glasgow.

I have sent my council tax bill for the period in question to prove this. I’m anxious and so frustrated and cannot see a way out of this nightmare.
SMW, Brighton

This is a shocking case of corporate lethargy. It sounds as though a tracing service was used to find the errant Glaswegian debtor and, because your first names were the same, and your unusual surname similar, they hit on you at the other end of the country.

The saga should have ended when you first confirmed your identity; the fact that British Gas only put a stop to it when I got in touch is shameful. It blamed an “internal error” for linking you with the indebted stranger and apologised for not resolving it sooner. It has since called off the debt collection agency.

Luckily no markers had yet been recorded on your credit file, otherwise your creditworthiness might have been affected. You’d think they might offer you compensation for the toil and stress its mistakes have caused you, but not even a bunch of flowers was suggested.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions

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Anna Tims

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