A 91-year-old woman was threatened with bailiffs after an error was made in her gas meter reading.

Valerie Gardner was told debt collectors would come to her house in Battersea, after a British Gas employee accidentally overcharged her £1000 for her monthly gas and electricity bill.

British Gas apologised for the “one-off human error” and said the situation was rectified as soon as possible.

But the 91-year-old’s son, Sebastian Gardener, has said the ordeal left his mother “hysterical.”

Ms Gardner, who has lived in her Battersea home for over 25 years usually pays around £125 per month for her gas and electricity bills.

But in May 2021, she was charged £1285 – a 10-fold increase.

British Gas apologised for the mistake and said the situation had been put right as soon as possible

British Gas apologised for the mistake and said the situation had been put right as soon as possible

The family said they wrote a letter and two emails to British Gas flagging the mistake but received no reply.

Instead, Ms Gardner received a notification that debt collectors would be presenting themselves on May 29.

“Being threatened at the age of 91 with having property forcibly removed due to an error to which British Gas have already admitted over the phone is simply unbelievable,” said Mr Gardner.

“My mother is entirely capable, she reads all day and listens to music. But with limited mobility and few distractions, the sense of powerlessness can really play on your mind.”

The family said they eventually got through to a customer support representative who said the situation would be rectified swiftly.

But at the beginning of June Ms Gardner received another, more urgent letter from debt collectors.

Mr Gardner added: “It’s clearly an error, not pure malice, but the degree of incompetence is really alarming. We were particularly struck by the way British Gas firewall themselves against people complaining.”

“It’s bad enough for people my age dealing with these corporations but British Gas makes a big deal about being friendly with older generation. They can’t always hack technology that sends you around a labyrinth.”

A spokesperson for British Gas apologised for the error and said they have offered Ms Gardner a goodwill gesture.

“We’re sorry and we’ve now sent Mrs Gardner the correct bill, unfortunately one of our meter readers noted the reading incorrectly.

“This has now been amended and we’ve provided a gesture of good will for the inconvenience. We’re pleased that Mrs Gardner has accepted this.”