Teenage girl left ‘terrified’ by British Gas agents who broke into home
The 14-year-old girl was “terrified” when British Gas agents broke into her home to install prepayment meters.
Ofgem has launched an investigation into British Gas after it was reported that the company had dispatched collection agencies to ‘break into’ customers’ homes to ‘install’ prepayment meters – including in vulnerable households.
Keiley Probert said her home was broken into by two British gas agents and a locksmith on October 20, 2022 while one of her 14-year-old twin daughters, Morgan, was ill at home.
I was shocked and appalled that they were at my house and went upstairs to Morgan’s room
“[I felt]shock and horror that they were at my house and went upstairs to Morgan’s room,” said the 33-year-old, who lives near Dudley in the West Midlands.
“I was upset at how scared Morgan was.”
Keiley Probert’s mother, Helen Probert, gave the PA news agency a more detailed explanation of what happened on October 20, 2022.
“While my daughter (Keiley) was away one of her 14-year-old twin daughters (Morgan) was unwell in bed,” said the 54-year-old from Wolverhampton.
“She said she heard a noise and then one of the men came up the stairs into her bedroom and she yelled why they were in the house. She was horrified.
“So she called her mom to tell her and my daughter panicked and then one of the agents called my daughter but she was screaming and saying how dare you enter my daughter’s room and why he was walking around her house in the first place.
“(One of the boys) also went to her room. The meters were on the wall outside.”
The 54-year-old added that Keiley is awaiting universal credit and waiting to go to university, and that she is a “single parent” after the sudden death of her daughters’ father last year, who she declined to name sleep at 34
“All their money goes into the meters to provide heating and hot water for the house. She spends at least £70 on petrol and can’t even afford enough food,” she added.
“It’s absolutely disgusting what they’re doing and the government allows it.”
Keiley Probert added: “Prepayment meter rates are high – I put on £30 and the petrol is gone again.
“I try not to use too much gas – I use some early in the morning for an hour when (the kids) get up for school, then again for a few hours at night for a bath so it’s warmer.
“I spend £60-70 on gas alone with no electricity – either heat or eat less.”
Helen Probert added that her daughter has no contract with British Gas but the company chose to be her agent.
“She hadn’t given them any details when she moved in, so she hadn’t had a signed contract or agreement with them,” she said.
She has slammed British Gas for its response to the incident, which saw the company refuse to share key details with the family.
“We asked for the agents’ names and the locksmith’s license, but they won’t give them,” she said.
“They just said the complaint was being processed and closed and that they should contact a number for details on how they handled the complaint.
“We asked again about the court they received the fake warrant from, the name of the signer and the license and insurance liabilities of the agents and locksmith who broke in.
“They just pass it on because they feel like it’s done.”
The energy giant is also being brought before Energy Secretary Graham Stuart to explain how the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: “Forcing customer switching should only ever be a last resort.”
British Gas has said it will no longer seek court orders to break into customers’ homes and install prepaid meters after it was reportedly forced on “vulnerable” customers.
A spokesman for Centrica said: “We are genuinely concerned by this customer’s experience and will be urgently investigating to understand exactly what happened here and we will be taking all appropriate action.
“We have made it clear that we are extremely disappointed in this company executing warrants on our behalf.”
In a broader statement issued today, the company said: “Protecting vulnerable customers is an absolute priority and we have clear processes and policies in place to ensure we manage customer debt carefully and securely.
“The allegations against our third-party contractor Arvato are unacceptable and we immediately stopped their warrant work.”