Published: 16:12, 20 March 2019
| Updated: 20:52, 20 March 2019
A restaurant owner says a £45,000 electricity bill could force her to close down.
Karen Williams, owner of The Mulberry Tree in Boughton Monchelsea thought someone was playing a joke on her when she received the call in June last year.
The 49-year-old said the energy usage she was being charged for was roughly the same as a factory employing 50 people despite having only six full-time staff and using gas for cooking and heating.
Her supplier, Utility Warehouse, said that the bill was for three year's back charges which had not been paid because of incorrect meter readings.
Ms Williams could have been hit with an even larger bill of more than £100,000 as she had been underpaying since 2008.
However, Ofgem rules at the time meant she could only be charged for the previous three years.
She said that before the bill she had been paying between £150 and £350 each month but that had since doubled.
"I thought it was a joke and I laughed," she said. "It's been hugely stressful and I've had lots of sleepless nights.
"At first I refused to pay it and they sent me a letter saying that they were going to send the bailiffs to collect goods and take me court and cut off my electricity. It was very scary."
The restaurant owner has since had visits from electricians on two separate occasions to check her meter.
She claims that they found it was recording electricity usage twice as high as as it actually was and the bill should be halved from £45,000 to £22,500. However, Utilities Warehouse did not accept this.
"We are a small family run business, it's still a huge amount of money but it's a lot better than it could be," she said. "It could force us to close down."
Her solicitor, Matthew Knight, said that after complaining to the Energy Ombudsman, the utility firm has been ordered to install a "check meter" at the restaurant which will reveal the true electricity usage.
The results of that are expected within around two weeks.
Utility Warehouse have been contacted for comment.