British Gas 'appalling' over £20,000 Leicester church bill

St Andrew's Church, Leicester Image copyright Google
Image caption The £20,000 taken from St Andrew's Church coffers has since been repaid

A priest has described as "appalling" British Gas's behaviour after it wrongly took more than £20,000 as payment for a church heating bill.

Canon Barry Naylor, from St Andrew's Church in Leicester, said the firm debited the cash, despite him pointing out it was an obvious error.

He said problems arose "because they didn't really understand our meter, which they installed".

British Gas apologised and has since repaid the money.

Canon Naylor said he was told by a British Gas representative that the church owed nearly £21,000 - which he queried and asked for an explanation.

'Righteous anger'

"I was shocked because I know [Leicester] cathedral has its heating on most of the winter and their gas bill is nothing like that," he said.

"We only have it on here for a few hours, three days a week."

Mr Naylor said despite his best efforts the firm failed to respond to his calls and took the money while he was away on holiday.

He said: "The worst part is they don't reply to phone calls, they don't answer emails - it's appalling the way they treat their customers. This for me is as important an issue as the amount of money we owe them."

"I do believe in miracles, but I'm not sure this one is going to happen.

"There is some righteous anger creeping in."

A spokesperson for British Gas said: "I am very sorry that we sent incorrect bills to Canon Naylor. We've taken urgent action to put his account right, and are also offering him a gesture of goodwill."

Discussions are ongoing between the church and the firm over what the correct bill should be.

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