/ Home & Energy

I got an £11,000 energy bill – what can I do?

You’re probably used to us highlighting energy issues by now, like problems getting a refund and doorstep selling. This week we’re telling an individual’s story that shocked our energy staff – can Which? help fix it?

We met Beverley at one of our live energy events. Around two years ago she received a gas bill for over £11,000 from EDF Energy. She was pretty surprised, given that she wasn’t with EDF Energy, she was with British Gas, and had been paying them by direct debit every month since she signed up.

It turned out that the reason EDF thought she was their customer was that her gas supply had been split – she was paying British Gas for the gas she used in her house, but had an extra meter supplying her old pool in the back garden. A meter which EDF Energy had installed, from which small amounts of gas had been leaking. The matter seems to have been compounded because EDF hadn’t billed her for two years.

Please take my meter away!

Beverley’s case is unusual. Normally, when people are over billed it can be because of a simple error – a misread meter, for instance. We hear these stories every day, and usually they can be cleared up quite quickly by complaining to your energy company.

But sadly this situation seems a bit trickier to solve. Beverley eventually had to pay EDF Energy for the gas (although the Energy Ombudsman ruled that she should pay only £1,500) but she’s still stuck with a second gas meter.

EDF came to take it away while Beverley was out, and ended up removing the wrong one – with the result being that Beverley was stuck without gas for around eight hours in the winter while British Gas sent out a speedy meter engineer to install a replacement.

But Beverley is back to almost square one now, hoping that soon she’ll get a knock at the door and an EDF engineer will take away the second meter that’s still sitting in her back garden, clocking up further charges.

How can we help?

We’ll be talking to EDF Energy about this, to see how they can help Beverley and make sure she’s back to having just one gas meter and regular bills.

In the meantime we thought we’d see if anyone else had been in a similar situation. Have you ever been sent a shocking energy bill, or had problems getting energy companies to rectify their mistakes?

As ever, we’d love to know – it not only helps us in our magazine investigations, it can spur on our campaigning work. You can leave your comments below or, if you’d like to hear our advice in person, come along to one of our energy events.

Comments
Profile photo of richard
Member

Well my problem was nowhere near as severe – but it was with EDF. For various reasons EDF did not call to read the meter (I coincidently read it once at the beginning of the year and once at the end of the year) so they decided to double my monthly charge though it was absolutely clear their “calculator at the office” made a serious mistake. I phoned to complain – they agreed to drop excess – but never sent confirmation. I then phoned to complain VERY loudly. The charge was actually dropped according to the bill – but still no confirmation letter.

Profile photo of b martin
Member

On the basis of the details which you have published I cannot understand how Beverley did not know she had two meters and had been paying a gas bill based on two sets of meter readings while the supply was with EDF. However when arranging to switch to British Gas, in the absence of any thing to the cotrary, should have ment that both metered supplies would be switched. EDF should have provided BG with the correct information so that they would have been aware that there were two meters (two spplies), this situation shows gross incompetence and negligence on the part of EDF which was further compounded by their two year delay in raising the matter. The Ombudsman should have ruled that the problem was of EDF’s making and that under the circumstances they were not entitled to any payment for the two year period from the date of switching to BG., that they should make a payment to Beverley of say £500 for the trouble they have caused and to recompense BG for any cost they may have occurred. On take over BG could be criticised for not checking the gas supply installation at Beverley’s house.
This also shows the problem with computerised accounting systems in that they do not appear to have built in alarms to high light the absence of meter readings and consumption above the normal so that manual investigaton can be taken to verify or correct the situation before further action is taken.

Member

It’s shocking that a bill can get that high. Our flat kept getting bills from Npower for £2,500 and there was no name on the account. Threatening letters from the balliffs started coming in so we rang them and NPower to tell them there was a mistake. BP had always supplied our flat. After we contacted them they then began adding our name to the bills so we needed to prove we were not their customers and they had never supplied our flat. Our names were taken off the bills but they kept arriving even when we were assured the automatic billing would be stopped until they had investigated further. I will never ever move to NPower because of this.

Member

Why do power companies have to have SO MANY TARRIFS? Or is it my age ? I don’t know how we are supposed to understand them all, I was always a poor math student when trying to make sense of this lot I am a positive DUNCE! Comparison sites aren’t always correct, so do I need to see an accountant.?I GIVE IN

Member
Shelley says:
8 August 2012

I moved into my home on the 11th of May 2012 via a housing exchange that went as wrong as you can get. I was with EON at my previous address paying £96 per month for gas AND electric. I completed the “moving home” section online in advance to make sure it would be a smooth swap and one less thing to worry about. They sent no confirmation but the day after I moved in i had an email telling me that they would be taking out the final bill amount alongside my usual DD payment of £96 so i assumed that because they had taken that payment, it was all sorted – WRONG.
They had in fact closed my account completely keeping the £76 credit that i was in, but I did not realise this until the end of July. Meanwhile i keep getting letters from EDF energy to the previous tenant and they were obviously overdue bills. The final straw came when a debt collector showed at my door asking for £488 for gas that hadn’t been paid for since September 2011!!
I gave them a forwarding address for the rightful owner of the bill and they have since sent me out an estimated bill saying that i now have a contract with them even though i explained the situation with EON and that they were starting up my account again.
My bill from EDF energy from 11th may 2012 to 1st August 2012 is £299 JUST FOR GAS!!!!! How can it be so much when the origional bill would have meant that the previous tenant only used £189 worth of gas in 7 months????
I know fuel prices are on the increase but that is ridiculous, I have never paid that much in my life.
I don’t use the heating , just the combi boiler for hot water and my gas cooker.
Can anyone tell me that they have got it wrong or suggest what I can do please?????

Member

We are in dispute with EDF due to claims of excessive energy useage last year (November to January). It is claimed we used nearly 4 times more units in this period. Our useage pattern has been consistent and never as high as this even for a entire year. Records will substanciate this.

EDF have insisted that we should pay an also offered a settlement amount (half). We declined this as we have not used the purported excess amount.

During this period we felt the gas useage should have decreased as we had no supply for
a week due to water in gas pipes in the locality (documented in the media),

EDF now want to test the meter. Our own recent readings appear to show that this is recording accurately.

We plan to approach the local energy ombudsman about this or possibly take legal advice. Can you help please?

Profile photo of richard
Member

What I have always done with disputes is to pay the amount that I knew I used and write to explain why I refuse to pay the rest. – This approach has worked with BT and the Gas Company. My last dispute was when EDF doubled my direct debit – I objected as I knew my consumption had not changed – and sent meter readings for a few weeks. This resulted in a £350 refund and a reduction of the original direct debit by 30%.

Member
Phillips Delivery & Removals Ltd says:
7 October 2016

Hello Guys,

You wont believe my issue, I run a small removal and delivery firm. This means the office is not normally staffed (1 member of staff 3 times a week).

EDF have sent me a bill for £2500.00 for one quarter despite only one person being at the office for a matter of hours.

EDF said they would check the meter but they did not.

Any ideas to get this sorted would be appreciated.