A Wiltshire pensioner was left “stressed and upset” after he was slapped with a shocking energy bill totalling nearly £5,500.

Michael Cowdery, who lives near the centre of Calne, was hit with an inaccurate gas bill for £5,402 in September, after four years of issues with a smart meter installed at his property in 2019.

The giant sum was for the period between February 20 and August 31 this year and was based on estimated meter readings because the smart meter was not working.

Mr Cowdery was stunned by the bill and, despite receiving a revised estimate over a week later after chasing British Gas for answers, was left feeling distressed by the experience.

The 86-year-old said: “The estimates they were making are just ridiculous, and they gave me no explanation for the bill.

“The situation was stressful, and it took three attempts over a week to sort it out, that bill would’ve eaten into my savings and been a disaster for us.

“When you get into your 80s things appear more stressful than when you’re younger, so I’m very upset about the way it’s been dealt with because I just want it to run like clockwork.”

Wiltshire Times: Michael Cowdery with his gas meterMichael Cowdery with his gas meter (Image: Newsquest)

After accepting the estimates were incorrect, the energy giant sent a new bill of £1,928, which Mr Cowdery believes reflects his usage.

But the pensioner remains concerned about the accuracy of the energy statement after his ordeal, and British Gas has assured him the readings are accurate.

On September 21 an engineer installed a new gas smart meter, but Mr Cowdery says this is yet to be commissioned.

The energy provider added the meter is working to ensure accurate readings.

In the meantime, Mr Cowdery is taking his own readings from the gas meter at the front of his house.

He added: “I’m 86 and have had two knee operations so I am nervous about going out there in the cold and ice in winter.”

Wiltshire Times: Michael CowderyMichael Cowdery (Image: Newsquest)

British Gas has apologised for the incident and emphasised that they have reached out to Mr Cowdery to try and mitigate any distress caused.

A spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry as the bill Mr Cowdery received was based on estimated meter readings which were incorrect.

“We’ve since sent a revised bill based on meter readings that he has provided and have installed a new gas smart meter. 

“We’ve reached out to Mr Cowdery to apologise for any upset that may have been caused and have applied a credit to his account as a goodwill gesture.”