Energy secretary Chris Huhne has been urged to tackle current backbilling practices by energy suppliers.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has written to the minister addressing the issue which has led to stores receiving large bills.

Under current regulations, suppliers can bill local shops for six years’ worth of incorrect meter readings. Retailers are then left with a large bill and the threat of disconnection.

John Walker, owner of South Road Stores in Sheffield, received a back-dated bill from British Gas for £31,411.66 due to incorrect readings over a five-year period. British Gas is adamant that he has to pay the full amount.

“They’re bombastic bullies,” said John. “A bill of this size will put me out of business despite it being their mistake.”

British Gas has recently come under fire from retailers and the energy regulator Ofgem for its treatment of small businesses. In July, the supplier was fined £2.5m for “basic failures” in its small business customer service. Ofgem said the supplier had not put in place proper complaints procedures for its small business customers.

For more on the ACS’ work on energy, see James Lowman’s column on page 12.