AN ELDERLY couple who were yesterday sent an electricity bill for more than £4,000 have criticised their supplier and claimed the demand had "scared them half to death".
Roy Newman, 75, said he and his 74-year-old wife, Shirley, were horrified when they opened the letter from Southern Electric which arrived in the post with their Christmas cards.
The retired potter said the shock of the massive bill left his wife in tears, and added: "She just turned to me and said: 'How are we going to pay it?'
"I went into shock and then I felt extreme anger. Just four days before Christmas, how dare they?
"My view is that we are not people to these companies, we are numbers. Pensioners are all struggling when it comes to Christmas time and in this weather we are rationing our heating and lighting.
"The last letter we had said we were 62 in credit. We always pay by direct debit."
Mr Newman said Southern Electric had promised to look into why such a bill had been sent and had told him that it was the result of an error by a meter reader who was using new technology.
He added: "I would like the electric firm to know that sending out bills like this could kill somebody, the shock could kill an elderly person, no problem. I dare one of their managers to pick the phone up and explain to me how it has happened."
A spokesman for Southern Electric said Mr Newman's case was under investigation.