'Why does Scottish Power say I owe it £2,641?'

Katie Morley
bill  - Telegraph 

Introducing our new consumer champion column: Katie Morley Investigates. If a company has let you down she is here to fight your corner. If you've lost money or been badly treated contact Katie here or at kminvestigates@telegraph.co.uk.

Dear Katie,

Scottish Power sent me an urgent arrears notice for £2,641 but won’t explain why I owe money. I have been a customer for years and pay by direct debit. I live in a two-up, two-down cottage with oil central heating and log fires. I use only basic electrical appliances.

But Scottish Power says I used £2,912 of energy last year and predicts I will use £3,188 in the coming year. This is impossible. My own meter reading shows that I use about £6 a week – about a 10th of what Scottish Power says.

I have spent endless hours on the phone and countless requests for meter readings have been ignored. It’s become a nightmare.

SD, Norwich

Dear SD,

Scottish Power has a lousy track record for customer service, but in handling your case it has managed to achieve an Olympic level of incompetence.

Its inability to help you quickly has resulted in sleepless nights and taken a considerable toll on your health, I was sorry to hear.

After two months of regular emails and phone calls on my part, Scottish Power posted you a mysterious £337 cheque. Customer services rang you to explain why this was sent, but as you are hard of hearing you could not make out what was being said. I asked Scottish Power to email you instead, but the written explanation was as clear as mud.

I asked the press office to explain and it finally admitted to me what you had suspected all along: Scottish Power has had you down as living at someone else’s house for the past five years. It has been estimating your bills on the basis of readings of a meter that belongs to another family, who, by the sounds of it, guzzle energy like billy‑o compared with your relatively frugal lifestyle.

As a result Scottish Power, while taking your money to pay for this other property, has not recorded you as having paid anything towards your own bills for five years. The £2,641 arrears was your “outstanding” bill over this period.

Scottish Power has now put the total you have paid in direct debits – £1,527 since 2013 – towards your actual bills, meaning you did underpay but by a lesser £1,114. Following my involvement Scottish Power has written off this debt, meaning you now owe it nothing.

In fact, while this was all being sorted out your direct debit continued to send money to Scottish Power, meaning your account went £337 into credit. This explains the mysterious cheque, which was intended to bring your balance back to zero.

Shortly after all this was established your partner wrote to tell me how ill you were feeling, and I realised this almighty kerfuffle had truly pushed you to the end of your tether. To say sorry Scottish Power offered you a further £250, which you accepted as you were too stressed to carry on fighting.

It has been a long time coming. Had you obediently paid the arrears you would be £2,641 poorer but you are now £1,364 better off.

You are switching to a new provider and, frankly, the sooner you are rid of Scottish Power the better.

A spokesman said: “We sincerely apologise to Mr D for the upset and inconvenience this matter has caused and the amount of time it has taken us to resolve this.”

The full Katie Morley Investigates column will appear in print every Saturday and Sunday. You can get an early taste every Friday at 1200.

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