A COUPLE hit with a £500 bill for two months of electricity use say it is the second time they have suffered huge winter costs.

John Smith and Vicky Gilson live in a two-bedroom flat in Trinity Road, Manningtree with their pet dog Rocky.

But last winter, their first in the home, they were shocked to get a bill for £800 from British Gas after using storage heaters during the cold weather.

The care assistants say this winter they have only used two small oil wall heaters during the evenings when they are home for fear of another bill, but have still been charged an “excessive” amount.

Vicky, 34, said: “We disputed it last year but they sent someone to do a meter accuracy test and they said it was right.

“We have been using the oil filled radiators since the end of October, but for the December to January period they have charged more than £500.

“They said they will charge us if they send someone to check the meter again and it’s right.

“It’s very worrying and stressful.

“We can’t switch supplier because the account is still in debit as we are paying off the last big bill.”

Despite being told the meter is correct the couple are sure there must be a problem to cause such big bills.

They said a neighbour with a different supplier is also paying high bills but another, who owns her home, pays £50 a month and is thought to being using her storage heaters all day.

Vicky added: “We work 48 hours a week and do the same shifts so we don’t use the heating a lot. We are at our wits’ end.”

A spokesman for British Gas, said: “Ms Gilson and Mr Smith have been billed correctly for their electricity usage. We have previously carried out a meter test at their request and found the meter to be working accurately.

“The Ombudsman has also reviewed this matter and agree that their bills are correct and in line with their usage.”