A couple were stunned to receive an energy bill for their one-bedroom house totalling £57,000.

Katie Coyne, 60, and husband Richard, 64, were told they had a matter of weeks to pay the eye-watering British Gas bill racked up, apparently, in just one month of usage. 

This was despite their entire annual estimate being just £2,150.

To find out why their bill was so high, Richard says he spent countless tea and lunch breaks trying to get through to a customer services agent - but to no avail. 

Richard and Katie said the bill left them so scared they didn't want to turn on anything electric in their home in Devizes, Wiltshire for weeks.

But now after being approached for comment, British Gas confirmed the bill was a mistake.

Katie said: "It's completely crazy - I'm beyond livid.

"They say they're sorry but that doesn't work anymore. It's just a joke.

"We have a smart meter, so they should have accurate readings, but all our bills say they are estimates - it doesn't make sense.

"We just pay them £180 a month because we think that's about right and we don't want to get into debt, but our bills don't make sense at all.

"Sometimes they say we owe them and sometimes they say they owe us.

"This makes you feel so small - like you don't count for anything."

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: A couple were shocked to receive a £57k bill from British Gas

Katie, a retired cleaner and youth worker, and Richard, a machine operative on a building site, have rented their home from a housing association for 24 years.

Central heating with a gas boiler was installed to replace their storage heaters three-and-a-half years ago.

The couple have had various energy companies supply the property and switched to British Gas two years ago, and had a smart meter fitted.

Their bills, for electricity and gas, ranged from £62 to £201 last year, they said.

The meter was checked by an engineer two months ago and passed.

The bill for £57,282.29p arrived on February 19.

Katie said: "I opened it and did a double take: I thought 'you're having a laugh!'"

After many failed attempts via the customer service number, the couple emailed the company CEO but heard nothing back.

They have priority status with the energy provider because of Katie's health.

She said: "It's impossible to speak to someone. They're just hiding behind their screens.

"If we do get through they ask us to email and they say it will be sorted but it isn't.

"We've made six or seven official complaints.

"I've been at my wits end with this. I'm feeling really desperate about it.

"And we deserve to be compensated for all the stress and lost lunch breaks.

"We're getting through this because we have each other but I worry that it could happen to someone vulnerable and alone.

"I'm just really angry that we're being ignored.

"They don't seem to care about the impact on someone's mental state.

"We have to watch every penny.

"I just hope and pray that government and big corporations realise soon that they need people like us or everything will fold eventually."

A British Gas spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry about this mistake, we’ve confirmed to Mrs Coyne that the bill was clearly incorrect.

"She wasn’t charged, we cancelled the bill on the same day and took no payment.

"We will send her an updated bill shortly."