Money Grouse: Tapped for 300 pounds by British Gas

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The Independent Online
WHEN Brian Chalkley bought his flat in Hackney, east London, he was surprised to find that, even though it had gas central heating radiators and a gas cooker fitted, there was no gas. He was even more surprised when British Gas insisted on charging pounds 329 to connect him to the supply.

The original gas piping and meters had been removed six months earlier as part of British Gas's mains replacement programme. The other two flats in the block had their equipment replaced free of charge.

But, because what was later to become Mr Chalkley's flat was unoccupied at the time, the gas board could not gain access to do the work.

Mr Chalkley was told after he moved in that if he wanted a gas supply it would mean the company making a special trip for which he would have to pay.

His protestations that it would be worth the company's while connecting him as he would be a substantial customer fell on deaf ears.

'It seems most unfair that I have had to pay when the other flats didn't,' he said.

'The reason they couldn't gain entry was because the freeholder did not give them access. I didn't think this was my problem because I didn't own the flat at the time. But unfortunately, after much correspondence, I had to pay otherwise I would have been without a gas supply.'

He is particularly incensed that the only reason why his supply needed to be reconnected in the first place was because British Gas had chosen to remove the old pipes. Why should he be financially penalised for work they had chosen to do?

A British Gas spokeswoman said: 'I can see that it must seem unfair from his point of view.'

However, it was company policy to charge people for being reconnected if this could not be done at the same time as the rest of the mains maintenance work.

The reason the cost in Mr Chalkley's case was so high was because scaffolding had to be hired to give engineers access.

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