A disabled man living in a one-bedroom flat has hit out at energy firm Ovo after it sent him a bill of more than £4,000 during the cost of living crisis.
Christopher Barnes, who lives in the small flat in Jesmond, Newcastle, said his most recent previous bill, which he paid on 11 October this year, was £59.82 – but his latest bill, that he received earlier this month, had leapt to £4,190.77.
Barnes said there was no explanation as to why the bill was so high and he had to contact Ovo, who have recently taken over SSE, to find out.
He said the company claimed the bill, which was sent to him on 10 November, had come from a balance adjustment from SSE.
Barnes said: "I felt absolutely shocked and I couldn't believe it was real. There's no way I would be able to afford it.
“I knew straight away that I would be phoning them up, complaining and fighting it because it is so extreme. It's like being mugged.”
Barnes said he has always entered his meter readings and paid his bills on time, but could not get through to Ovo on the phone to question his latest bill.
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He accused Ovo of “profiting off the energy crisis” and said some vulnerable customers might end up paying the bill rather than challenging it.
Barnes added: "I thought it was a joke, I didn't believe for one minute it could be real. I don't get a reply when I contact them, they are expecting me to pay it.
"I had to contact someone at the company to find out I had been overcharged. If it isn't a mistake, it's definitely their fault.
“If they overcharged me by such a huge amount it's their calculations that have been wrong, not mine.”
An Ovo spokesperson confirmed that the issue over the bill has now been rectified.
They said: "We are very sorry to Mr Barnes for the shortfalls in service.
“We can confirm his account is now up to date and we’ve offered a goodwill gesture for the inconvenience caused.”
In his autumn budget last week, chancellor Jeremy Hunt made former-prime minister Liz Truss’s energy price guarantee far less generous, with the typical household bill spiking from £2,500 to £3,000 in April.
Hunt announced that the energy price guarantee will continue for a further 12 months from April, but will rise from the current £2,500 to £3,000 per year for the average household.
He said new one-off payments of £900 to households on means-tested benefits, £300 to pensioner households, and £150 for individuals on disability benefit.