Mom Billed for Entire Building's Electricity After Tech Glitch

A mother in the Greater Manchester area of northwest England was "absolutely shocked" to find she was unknowingly paying the electricity bill for the entire building, rather than just for her own apartment in Swinton.

The glitch was discovered in May by an electrician carrying out checks on the building, when he tripped a switch and said he needed access to the home of Natasha Prince, 26, the Manchester Evening News, a regional U.K. newspaper, reported.

Following a close inspection, the electrician found that the electricity meter in Prince's home was "connected to the meter for the communal block," according to ForHousing, the company which owns the block of apartments.

The director of neighborhoods at ForHousing, Martyn Hague, said: "During a routine appointment at the New Street, block one of our contractors discovered that work had been carried out to Ms. Prince's electricity meter and that it has been connected to the meter for the communal block."

The meter for the communal block covers the electricity for the building's hallway lights and intercom, which are constantly switched on.

Prince told the Manchester Evening News: "An electrician came out and said he tripped a switch and rang me saying he needed to gain access to the property to switch it on.

"He came in and noticed these wires connected to my supply. He said I was paying for the communal areas, meaning the doors, lights and the intercoms.

"They're a 24-hour thing so they're constantly on," she added.

ForHousing was immediately notified of the issue and the matter was resolved.

The director advised: "This work was not carried out by ForHousing or one of our contractors. We carry out regular checks of the meters and in February this year the electricity supply was connected as it should be."

Prince said she has been reimbursed around $75 (£53.20), according to the Manchester Evening News.

"We are currently working with Ms. Prince to understand who carried out this work on her electricity meter. We will of course reimburse Ms. Prince for any additional costs she has faced," the director said.

It is unknown for how long Prince's electricity meter was connected to the meter for the entire building. Newsweek has contacted ForHousing for further comment.

Prince was reported to have changed her electricity supplier several times, believing she was being overcharged.

"Initially I ended up changing my electric supplier because I thought they were charging me too much," the mother explained.

She reportedly had to borrow money from her family to cover the high electricity bill charged on the meter, which needs to be topped up on a pay-as-you-go basis for continued access to electricity.

The mother said: "I've gone away for a week and left only the fridge freezer on, and because the flat is using the electricity for the rest of the building it will switch off.

"I could barely do any of my washing because of how much electricity it was taking.

"I was constantly topping up every two days and it was draining and draining.

"Now they've taken the box out, I've topped up and I still have money left," she said.

Electricity meters in Brooklyn, NYC in 2017.
Electricity meters seen in an apartment building in the New York City borough of Brooklyn in July 2017. A mother in the U.K. was "absolutely shocked" to find she was paying the electricity bill for the entire building rather than just for her own apartment due to a meter error. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images