Energy company Eon billed Which? member Nancy Stephens £212 to pay for electricity and gas in a house where no one was living at the time. And it threatened her with legal action before Eon’s CEO intervened.
Mrs Stephens, who was moving from Frome in Somerset to Huddersfield, submitted final gas and electricity readings when she moved out of the Frome house on 3 September 2013. Her monthly direct debit had been taken on 2 September and she was then notified of the final bill of £121.18, which was paid by direct debit on 20 September.
That should have been the end of it, but she was then sent an estimated dual fuel bill of £212.75 for a period when the Frome property was empty, awaiting completion of the sale on 20 November.
Mrs Stephens wrote to Eon to say that, as the notification was sent to her new address, it must have received her final readings and therefore knew she had left the Frome property.
Eon failed to respond but, at the end of December, wrote to chase payment and threatened further action. She wrote back by special delivery, but in January Eon threatened legal action, saying she’d failed to give a genuine reason for not paying and said that costs would rise.
Which? Legal Service advises
We advised Mrs Stephens to write to Eon’s chief executive, Tony Cocker, outlining what happened and asking him to investigate. We advised her to say she had the basis of a complaint to the ombudsman and would do so unless she was assured the matter was resolved and compensated for distress, inconvenience and expense.
Tony Cocker’s office said there had been an error by the advisers dealing with the account, which meant it hadn’t been closed correctly. It paid compensation for the errors and the cost of the recorded delivery postage. Mrs Stephens donated this to a local charity.
What the law says…
If you have a problem sorting out a complaint, the energy ombudsman may be able to help. If you’ve given a company a chance to put things right but your complaint is unresolved after eight weeks, or the company informs you it has reached its final position and you’re not satisfied, you can complain to the energy ombudsman. This gives an independent and impartial way to resolve disputes outside the courts.
If the ombudsman proposes a remedy you’re happy with, the company will be required to put it in place.
Have you ever had a bill from an energy supplier for gas and electricity you didn’t use?