Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds students left with £19m gas bill after meter reading error

Left to right: Viktorija Kiselytė, Chloe Parker, Amber Medwell and Olivia Machell Image copyright Viktorija Kiselytė
Image caption Viktorija Kiselytė (left) and housemates Chloe Parker, Amber Medwell and Olivia Machell were horrified when they saw the bill

A mistaken digit in a gas meter reading resulted in student housemates receiving a bill for £19m.

The University of Leeds students had wrongly reported their meter reading and woke up on Monday to find the bill for the eye-wateringly large sum.

One of the group, Viktorija Kiselytė, said when they were initially unable to contact their supplier they became so worried they set up a fundraising page.

Huddle Utilities corrected the mistake and issued a new bill on Tuesday.

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Ms Kiselytė said: "We panicked imagining court battles, criminal records and bankruptcy, and slept with £19m of debt hanging over us.

"However, the next morning we managed to contact our utilities provider and they swiftly sorted out the problem for us. It turns out that we forgot to put a decimal point in our previous gas meter reading - whoops."

Chloe Parker said: "All the things that could happen went through our heads, like can we hack bankruptcy?"

Image copyright Viktorija Kiselytė
Image caption The bill was eventually corrected by the gas supplier

Oliver Davies, of gas suppliers Huddle Utilities, said: "The students were on a bundled package with a payment plan based on predicted usage. Customers only pay for actual use so if it is a bit over they pay a bit more."

"After they typed their usage in wrongly it showed on their account but the next morning it was sorted."

The students' normal bill for their house in Hyde Park was around £900 for a year, he said.

"It was definitely by far the largest amount outstanding I had seen," he added.

The housemates, who are all between 20 and 21 years old and studying Russian, said they decided to share their story on the Leeds student page to try and get a bit of moral support and to put other students' debts into perspective.

They said any money donated on their funding page - which did not receive any pledges - would have been given to a housing charity.

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