Couple in shock after receiving £11,000 bill after they hadn't paid for gas in 18 years
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We've all been feeling the cost of living recently - what with all the unavoidable Christmas spending and a hike in heating payment outgoings as we move further into winter.
After nobody could work out whose responsibility the gas supply was, Lee Haynes, 44, and his partner Jo Woodley, 45, simply gave up asking.
Now, nearly two decades later, the pair are facing a bill worth a small fortune of £10,824.87.
"It's unbelievable - my worst fears about this have now come true," revealed school site worker Lee.
Lee and Jo, who works in admin, said they immediately tried to sort out the maintenance bills, but hit a block when it came to the gas.
Letters from the National Grid and their housing association, both dated in 2006, confirm struggles to establish the source of the gas.
The duo also claimed they contacted the ombudsman who said they should wait to hear.
Lee recalled: "It was very strange. After a few months we had bills for everything but not gas.
"I was worried about suddenly getting a big bill - so I tried really hard to find out who was supplying our gas."
He continued: "The guy from the housing association tried all the suppliers they work with and said he didn't know what to do.
"When the ombudsman said just to keep the paperwork and leave it that's exactly what we did."
Lee and Jo then got a letter from gas distributors Cadent in March 2023, saying they wanted to come and look at the supply to the property.
A follow-up letter from Cadent then landed on their doorstep three months later - which shocked them.
The letter said they owed early £11k for their gas usage between the years of 2005 and 2023 and were served with the official invoice last month.
The notice in question told them they had just 30 days to come up with the sum.
Lee and Jo has since said they are still none the wiser as to who supplied the gas over the 18-year period but have now signed up with a major energy firm.
"I just don't understand," Lee explained. "The 1986 Gas Act says they can recover costs if I'm at fault but I'm not.
"Who would write in their calendar every year to try and find out who's providing gas to their home?"
He said he and Jo simply 'got on with living' at the home 'like [they] were told to'.
"I did everything I could. I didn't want to just let the problem go," he continued. "After two years of trying really hard to find our supplier and trying to pay British Gas, we were told there was nothing we could do.
"It would be fair enough to bill us if I hadn't tried, but they can't really expect me to keep trying for 18 years."
He added that there had to be 'shared responsibility' for the ordeal.
A spokesperson from Cadent said: "Whilst Cadent are not a gas supplier, as part of our gas transportation license we have an obligation to investigate and use our reasonable endeavours to recover the cost of any gas used outside of a supplier contract.
"Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, we must stress we have a specialist team who are on hand to offer help and support to customers who are required to make a repayment."