A COUPLE in their 80s who have never used a computer are being charged £220 more for their gas and electricity - because they can't set up an online account.

Derek Millett, 89, and wife Vera, 88, have been loyal customers of energy provider E.ON for years.

But the couple, of Milton, Weston-super-Mare, were left ''gobsmacked'' when they were told their bill would be going up £180 a year from May 1.

On the back of the bill was the advice that they could switch to one of E.ON's different tariffs - which would save them £228.20 a year instead.

The only problem was that this tariff, named by E.ON as 'Fix Online v10' requires the couple to set up an online account and pay through that.

Mr and Mrs Millett have never owned or been on a computer in their lives before, and don't feel the need to get a smart phone at this time in their life.

But paying the bill in the standard way - by direct debit and with a paper bill in the post once a year - incurs extra costs to E.ON, according to the energy provider.

"We offer a range of energy tariffs and as part of our ongoing communications we notify customers on how they could pay less and encourage them to choose the best tariff for their needs," said a spokesperson for E.ON.

"E.ON Fix Online is an online only tariff through which customers are required to sign-up online, savings for which are reflected in the price."

Mr and Mrs Millett's son Colin said his parents couldn't believe the price hike - and neither could he.

"I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I was understanding it correctly, I thought I had made a mistake," he said.

"But it was right - their bill is going up £180 but if they open an online account it will go down by £228. It seems wrong somehow.

"I phoned E.ON on behalf of my parents, and was on hold for 30 minutes before I gave up.

"When I did eventually get through the next day, I asked if they could make allowances for the fact their customers were loyal customers over the years but were 89 and not online, but was told there was nothing they could do.

"My parents are nearly 90. I think it is wrong. That's what annoys me - it's tough enough for older people nowadays anyway.

''It is a bit discriminatory against people because of their age, and the worst thing is there are probably loads of people in their 80s who are in this situation, and they aren't online and also are reluctant to switch energy providers.

"Then there are people who perhaps can't afford a laptop, or a smart phone and aren't online - it punishes them too. I just think it is wrong."

This is The West Country:

The campaigning charity Age UK slammed E.ON for leaving older people who are not online as 'second class citizens'.

"The internet undoubtedly brings many benefits, including helping us to make savings and keep in touch with loved ones," said Age UK director Caroline Abrahams.

"However, those who cannot, or choose not to use digital technology should not be disadvantaged or made to feel like second class citizens.

''It's essential that there are alternatives so that the 4.2 million older people who aren't online do not miss out.

"Age UK runs programmes to help people in later life gain the skills and confidence to use the internet, such as the One Digital project.

"We offer easy-to-follow training so that as many of us as possible can ultimately enjoy the advantages of being online. For more information about support to get online in your area call 0800 055 6112 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk/it.''