A GREAT Harwood shopkeeper has spoken of her shock after opening a £19,000 gas bill.

Nahida Paveen, who owns WST News in Queen Street with her family, said the quarterly bill was ‘devastating’ to read.

The 44-year-old mother-of-three said: “I nearly fell of my chair.

“Afterwards I found it funny but at first I was devastated. I told my husband and he said, ‘what?’ “If somebody was not able to speak English, or get on the phone to sort it out, do you think they would survive having to look at a bill like that?”

Mrs Paveen lives above the shop with husband Hamid Ahmed, 45, with whom she has three children — Waleed Mir, 20, Sadia, 17, and Tauheed, 13.

Chorley Citizen:

She said she contacted her supplier of two years, British Gas, after receiving the bill last Wednesday. “They said it was estimated but the previous bill was based on an actual reading,” she said.

“I asked them if they actually read the bills and how I was estimated to have used more than £19,000 in three months.

“They just kept saying it was estimated but I said that does not explain it.” Mrs Paveen supplied British Gas, a subsidiary company of Centrica, with an up-to-date reading but has still had to cancel her direct debit to stop the money from leaving her account later this month.

She said: “They said to wait seven days for a revised bill but they said the direct debit will go out, so I’m cancelling it.

“I have not got that sort of money in my account.”

British Gas spokeswoman Leigh Franks said the company had introduced a new billing system which had resulted in ‘some incorrect bills being issued’.

An investigation was also launched to track down accounts that were affected.

She said: “I am very sorry that we sent a large bill in error to Mrs Paveen. This was due to an error in our computer system which has now been rectified.

“We have apologised to Mrs Paveen today and assured her that a correct bill will be issued.”