Great Britain

Mum and two-year-old son left THREE days without gas and electricity after British Gas top-up chaos

A SINGLE  mum and her toddler son were left freezing and without gas or electricity for three days over New Year, thanks to British Gas top-up chaos.

Sophie Talbot, 22, from Cardiff in Wales told The Sun she was “disgusted” by the way the company treated her after she was left with no heating, electricity or hot water.

British Gas caused chaos for customers on prepayment metres when it switched from Paypoint to Payzone, slashing the number of places where people can top up their credit by 14.000.

When Talbot woke up on New Year’s Day to find just 20p credit on the meter she found her local shop no longer sold top-up credit.

And when she did eventually find a shop that sold credit a five minute drive away - a technical issue with her card related to the switchover meant it would not register the funds.

She spent an hour and a half trying to get through to British Gas customer service, which was closed on New Year's Day.

The out of hours emergency team refused to help her – leaving her with no choice but to send her two-year-old son Mason to stay with his dad for three days, while she remained in the cold.

I stayed here myself and I can cover up and stay warm - but with the baby here I was absolutely gobsmacked that they didn’t really care

Sophie Talbot

"When it came to New Year’s Day it was a nightmare as I couldn’t find any shops to top up,” she told The Sun.

“I told them I had no gas and no electric and they kept telling me it wasn’t an emergency. I’m quite lucky that I have family as otherwise I would have been stuffed.”

Sophie spent the first night at home alone with just her French Bulldog Simba for company and wrapped herself up in blankets and fluffy pyjamas to stave off the cold.

She put a coat on Simba to keep him warm and says her pet fish died because the oxygen bubbles in the tank cut out when the electricity stopped.

“I had no gas or electricity for three days, I had nothing.

"The baby had to go and stay with his dad and I stayed here on my own one night and with my mum the other two days.

“It was scary because it was pitch black. I just couldn’t believe they left me with nothing.”

An entire fridge worth of food in the bin

Sophie, who is on Universal Credit, was also left "devastated" when she had to bin an entire fridge and freezer packed full of food from a recent £150 Iceland shop.

“At Christmas time you fill your freezer and fridge [with food] and I lost all of it - I was absolutely devastated.

“Being on my own as well I don’t get a lot of money because I’m on Universal Credit.

"It was only because my mum took me shopping that I had any food – otherwise I’d probably still not have anything now,” she said.

“I have a baby – that’s what makes me angry about it.

"I stayed here myself and I can cover up and stay warm but with the baby here I was absolutely gobsmacked that they didn’t really care.”

“If it happened to someone who doesn’t have family they would have been left in their house with a baby for three days – it’s disgusting, I’m one of the lucky ones in that I had somewhere to go.”

Sophie isn’t the only person to have been left without gas and electricity as a result of the switch.

Earlier this month disabled mum Kelly Troke, 37, told The Sun how she was left without heating and hot water in her Portsmouth home, which she shares with her 14-year-old daughter.

She had to drive to three shops before she found a place to top up.

Furious customers also took to social media to complain, including one new mum of a five week old baby.

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British Gas says it's sorry - but hasn't compensated Sophie

British Gas told The Sun it was sorry to any customer who had experienced issues topping up at their new terminal - but refused to say whether it could compensate Sophie for her lost food.

“We would like to apologise to any customer that has experienced issues topping up at their new terminal and we are working with Payzone to fix any problems as an absolute priority,” the spokesperson said.

“We’d ask any customer impacted to contact us so we can advise on where their next nearest terminal is or provide additional assistance.”

British Gas said it would work with Payzone to add new locations in the area if a “gap” was identified.

“We would also advise any customer that feels they are owed compensation to get in touch with us,” the spokesperson added - though Sophie said when she asked they refused.

Post Office, which owns Payzone, said there had been technical issues with a "small number" of Payzone retailers and that anyone experiencing difficulties should contact British Gas.

It said the "vast majority" of top-ups worked without any problems.

“However, we are very sorry that a small number of British Gas customers are experiencing difficulties when trying to top-up their pre-paid keys or cards at one of our Payzone retailers," a spokesman told The Sun.

"Any disruption to service is taken extremely seriously and we are, of course, working as quickly as possible to resolve the issues."

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