AN elderly widow who has never been in debt says she was left in tears after BT threatened to cut off her phone for incorrectly saying she hadn't paid her bill.

The company has now apologised to 90-year-old Peggy Smith, saying the payment had been lost in "an incorrect route".

Mrs Smith, of Norton Fitzwarren, told the County Gazette it was the second time this year there had been confusion over her bill payment.

She added: "BT contacted me bother times saying I hadn't paid and if I didn't settle up they would disconnect me.

"I've paid through my bank the same way all my life.

"I felt harassed. There could be other people being treated like this who don't realise and pay their bill again.

"BT have worried me to death. The first time it happened, I'd just come out of hospital.

"When they did it again I was crying my eyes out."

Mrs Smith, who used to work as a cook at Oake Primary School, said: "I checked and the money had gone through the bank.

"I then got a letter from BT saying I'd paid it. Next thing they tell me they're going to cut me off.

"I've never been in debt in my life. That's why it was so upsetting.

"The day I got married, my father said to me, 'If you haven't got any sugar, don't ask anyone for it - go without. Don't buy something until you've got the money to pay for it'."

A BT spokesman said: "We’re sorry for any distress Mrs Smith faced when trying to pay her bill with us.

"An automated payment was made on behalf of the customer via an incorrect route which meant the bill was outstanding.

"As soon as we were made aware of the issue, we had the payment located and credited to the account within 48 hours."