New shock for victims of energy back-billing

When the elderly parents of the Independent reader Stewart Graham had a surprise and distressing demand for £1,200 from the energy supplier EDF, he turned to us. The Birmingham couple, who are in their late seventies, had been left fearful of turning on their heating because of the cost.

They had been sent the bill to cover supposed past underpayments, but the problem appeared to have been caused by a faulty meter that EDF installed.

Despite his best efforts to resolve the situation – there was no way that his elderly parents could afford the steep bill – Stewart got nowhere with EDF, which continued to bombard the couple with aggressive demands for the cash. We passed on the problem to the company in November, and it appeared to be sorting things out for the couple.

EDF said back then: "We will reimburse the customer without delay if there is a fault and we will not send any bills to the couple until the results are confirmed."

Almost five months on, Stewart felt compelled to come back to us.

"EDF would not have responded in the way it did without The Independent highlighting the story," he said. "But once the publicity passed EDF simply returned to the bad attitude they displayed in the first place."

His anger flared last week when EDF wrote to say it had credited his parents' account with £100 "in recognition of any confusion or upset caused by the incorrect bills that they had received [but] we will not be increasing this amount".

"The offer of a £100 gesture 'as a matter of goodwill' is derisory," Stewart said. "This is not a case of 'offering gestures of goodwill' this is about EDF understanding that it needs to rectify a very bad customer experience caused by it not bothering to ensure it was charging the correct amount and then sending out inappropriate and aggressive letters."

Back we went to EDF. It had another look at the case and calculated there could be a further reduction of £172.58 on Stewart's parents' account.

In a statement, the firm said: "We are sorry that Mr Graham feels the matter is unresolved. We previously reduced the outstanding balance on his parent's account by £100 as a gesture of goodwill in recognition of the delay in removing the check meter and also for the inconvenience caused.

"We have now reviewed the account and the balance has been reduced by a further £172.58, the amount that would have been removed in line with the Code of Conduct as a further gesture of goodwill.

"This is very much above and beyond usual process and we hope that this will now bring the matter to a close."

The story is far from rare. Last week we reported that a quarter of households have been billed incorrectly by their energy company in the last two years. According to uSwitch, the number of customers who ended up owing money to an energy supplier following a discrepancy between an estimated bill and a "real" bill, increased to almost 10 million last year.

Stewart Graham's experience shows that energy firms are still failing to put things right when they make mistakes but it shouldn't need the press to get involved.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

    £18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

    £50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat