Over-the-top fuel estimates

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A Sheffield pensioner had been having problems with npower ever since he moved to the energy company.

Eugene Banks, of Loxley, moved his gas and electricity supply to npower 18 months ago.

Since then his gas meter has been changed a couple of times and, concerned about the changes in readings, Mr Banks started to take his own readings.

Each time he received his estimated bill, he would compare the reading with the one he had taken.

The estimates npower were providing were often a lot higher than the actual readings.

Mr Banks paid his bills on time by standing order, but was concerned he could receive an unexpected bill demanding further payment if a correct reading was not recorded on his account.

He said: “I think I could be overcharged for my gas.

“When you compare my figures with the estimates from npower, there is a big difference.

“I have been promised meter readings, but no-one has come out.

“The thing that gets me is this has taken 18 months to sort out – and it still hasn’t been.”

ACTION

An npower spokesman said they had checked Mr Bank’s account and explained it had taken longer than usual to update it after his meter was exchanged.

He said: “I am sorry Mr Banks is receiving estimated bills.

“I will make sure his account is updated and will also pop a gesture of goodwill on to this account once it has all been sorted.”

Getting meter readings right

When Edith Thomas, of Parson Cross, switched energy supplier she was delighted when two cheques arrived through her letter box.

She had left British Gas and discovered both her electric and gas account were in credit.

Cheques soon arrived for £27.95 from her gas account and £121 for her electric.

Her confusion began when she received another bill a few weeks later to say her electricity account was still in credit – but this time only by £8.27.

All the bills related to the same period – from September to January – so Mrs Thomas could not understand how much she was entitled to.

Mrs Thomas’ confusion then turned to anger when just days later she received a further gas bill to say she in fact owed British Gas £109.04.

She was then sent another letter demanding payment and threatening that if she did not pay then it would be passed to a debt collector to deal with.

Unsure at whether she owed money or was entitled to cash she had been given, she contacted Action Desk.

ACTION

Another great result for Action Desk.

British Gas apologised for the inconvenience and distress caused and explained what had happened.

Leigh Franks, of British Gas, said: “When Mrs Thomas switched to another energy supplier, we incorrectly recorded a lower final meter reading.

“We also didn’t tell her to give her new supplier the final reading.

“When her new supplier advised us of the correct reading, we sent a new bill.

“We won’t be asking Mrs Thomas to pay this and we’ve apologised for any distress or inconvenience we’ve caused.”

Mrs Thomas’ family thanked Action Desk for its help.

They said: “She has got a letter of apology from British Gas this morning and then a big bouquet of flowers has arrived from them.”

Act to benefit consumers

Consumers will have enhanced, easy-to-understand rights after a new Government Act was introduced.

The Consumer Rights Act is predicted to boost the economy by £4 billion over the next decade by streamlining complicated law.

It will also introduce a range of new rights for consumers when it comes into force on Thursday, October 1, 2015, including a 30-day time period to return faulty goods and replacement rights for faulty digital content.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: “The Consumer Rights Act brings consumer law into the 21st century and it’s especially good to see the Government extending consumer rights into digital content for the first time.

“The Act is a firm foundation for empowering consumers and should make it easier for people to understand their rights and challenge bad practice.

“It will help boost consumer confidence if businesses embrace the new rules and make sure that they treat their customers fairly.”

Under the Act, consumers will have clearer rights including:

 New rights for consumers to get a repair or a replacement of faulty digital content such as online film, games, music downloads and e-books;

 Consumers having a clear right to demand that substandard services are redone or failing that receive a price reduction;

 A 30-day time period to return faulty goods and get a full refund;

 Consumers being entitled to some money back after one failed repair of faulty goods – or one faulty replacement – even if more than 30 days have passed, rather than having to put up with repeated attempts to get a repair done;

 Consumers being able to challenge terms and conditions which are not fair or are hidden in the small print.