A registered vulnerable British Gas customer said he has had six months of "real stress" with the energy supplier amid some concerns that he might have his energy cut off. Greg Savva, 54, was transferred from People's Energy - after it collapsed - to British Gas in November 2021.
However, since then the Walton resident has claimed he has received "endless misinformation and downright lies" from the company. He had also not received the credit he was owed and there was a mistaken one million kWh gas meter reading. British Gas has since credited Greg with his balance from People's Energy.
Greg has severe obstructive sleep apnoea, a serious condition where breathing stops and starts while sleeping. In December, he had a heart attack due to the condition.
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He told SurreyLive: "Because of all the stress involved, I want compensation and I also want my refund of credit from People's Energy. This is six months of real stress because I'm a registered vulnerable consumer as I use a CPAP [machine] for my apnoea, which means they are not supposed to cut off my electricity supply."
One of his concerns is that this might happen because of all the "erroneous messages". Greg added: "To be fair they didn't imply or say that would cut me off. But given all the mistakes and errors they made and given I had this massively distorted usage that I couldn't possibly have paid for."
He said "nothing functioned" on his British Gas online account and he could not see payment plan details or manage his direct debit through it. Greg added: "The bills that were showing seemed to be, for the transfer period, very large amounts that didn't have any correlation to the usage.
"Ever since then I haven't been able to manage my direct debit - it's all being handled by an algorithm over which I have no control. The first time I had a bill that made any sense at all was for £841 at the end of March and by that time I'd been with them for five months."
In April, Greg had a new smart meter installed in his home by a British Gas engineer. However, the engineer incorrectly recorded the gas meter reading, leading to a false figure of more than one million kWh usage on Greg's account for a few days, which he called "absurd".
Greg still has to phone in his gas meter readings because the smart meter has yet to be commissioned, allowing it to send readings automatically. He said: "Whilst I appreciate energy prices have gone up in real terms a lot, I've always been a low energy user in my household and to be fitted with a bill of almost £1,000 based on estimates after six months of being with British Gas - I find that difficult to swallow."
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Greg wrote to his local MP, Dominic Raab, at the start of May about his concerns - who then wrote to British Gas parent company, Centrica. Greg also opened up a complaint with the Energy Ombudsman.
He said he received a call the next day from a British Gas complaints manager. He noted: "I was very happy with Dominic Raab's response and I thought I would be happy with this phone call. But what I got was obfuscation and obstruction."
Greg said before Mr Raab became involved he claimed he only received one phone call in six months from the complaints manager at British Gas. He said: "Every time I tried to call them they didn't take my calls or call me back."
Greg believes there a lot of people are in his position who have been transferred over from a different energy supplier. He said: "I don't think they are getting their credit from the administrator when they've been told that the companies they go to will be liable to return any credit.
"Even British Gas said it's not our responsibility to return the credit until the administrator tells what that is. I think a lot of people are going to be intimidated into just accepting the fact that any credit they had with their previous company has gone."
A survey published in May by MoneySavingExpert (MSE) found that 30% of British Gas, Octopus Energy and Shell Energy customers who were in credit and on price-capped tariffs saw their direct debits double, despite the energy price cap rise only being around 54%. British Gas told MSE that above-average increases could be due to offering customers the option to freeze their direct debits at their existing levels last winter.
A spokesperson for British Gas said: "‘We’ve now credited Mr Savva with his balance from People’s Energy which was delayed as we hadn’t received adequate details from its administrators. Mr Savva’s direct debit and bills are correct - it appears an engineer made a mistake with his opening reading after a smart meter exchange, but this was quickly amended and he’s since been billed correctly to accurate meter readings.
"We’ve been in touch with Mr Savva to tell him we’re sorry for the issues, help him navigate his online account and offer a goodwill gesture."
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