British Gas says sorry for letter demand

BRITISH Gas has apologised for threatening to force their way into a pensioner's home unless she gave them access to her gas meter.The Rev Sylvia Bareham was shocked to receive a letter from the firm, telling her she could face court action if she did not make an appointment to allow inspectors to take a meter reading within two days.

BRITISH Gas has apologised for threatening to force their way into a pensioner's home unless she gave them access to her gas meter.

The Rev Sylvia Bareham was shocked to receive a letter from the firm, telling her she could face court action if she did not make an appointment to allow inspectors to take a meter reading within two days.

Although the firm last night assured Miss Bareham that forced access was only carried out in extreme circumstances, the 70-year-old said she is concerned for other elderly homeowners who may be left frightened by the prospect of someone gaining entry to their house without their permission.

“The letter from British Gas was dated August 4, although I didn't receive it until the 16th,” said Miss Bareham, who is the priest for the Lark Valley Benefice which covers seven parishes, including Fornham St Martin near Bury St Edmunds.


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“It said if they did not hear from me by the 18th they would apply to the magistrates' court to get permission to enter my house.

“But my meter box is outside my house, and is not locked so is easily accessible, so the inspectors would not need to get inside anyway. All they have to do is walk around the side of the house and the box is in full view, so I don't know where they get the idea from that they could not get to the meter.”

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Miss Bareham, who has been a customer of British Gas for 10 years, wrote a letter to the energy supplier highlighting her concerns.

“I have not been frightened by the letter, but it might have been sent to someone more vulnerable than me, and I do not think it is right that British Gas is worrying people like that.

“Suppose I was on holiday when the letter was sent? I could have come home to discover British Gas had forced their way into my house.”

A spokeswoman for British Gas said they had apologised to Miss Bareham for any worry caused by the letter.

“The letter she received was a standard letter that we send out to customers if we have trouble accessing the property,” said the spokeswoman.

“We have now spoken to Miss Bareham and she has explained the meter is outside of the property, and we will be sending someone out to take the reading.

“We would never have just gone in to the customer's house, but would have made further efforts to contact her.”

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