Questions of Cash: My electricity meter is broken but I keep being asked for readings
Saturday 29 October 2011
Q I changed electricity supplier 18 months ago, after the visit of a door-to-door salesman. The paperwork went through smoothly, until I was asked for a meter reading so that the old account could be closed correctly and the new one opened. I then discovered that my digital meter – installed three months before – had gone blank. I had been checking the meter when it was first installed, but it was working correctly, so I stopped monitoring it. As soon as I realised the problem, I contacted the old and new electricity suppliers and the people I have spoken to have referred the matter to their colleagues, but the problem is not sorted out. I am getting estimated bills on the assumption that my consumption has not changed significantly over the last few years. But it has, as I had a combi-gas boiler with radiators installed soon after I changed supplier. I no longer use electricity for water heating or space heating. I keep getting letters asking for meter readings and I keep explaining that I cannot provide these.JM, Dorset.
A. Your meter states that it is the property of Scottish and Southern Energy, so we began by contacting them. Scottish and Southern said that although it is the electricity distributor, your supplier is NPower. Problems relating to the meter and billing must be resolved by NPower. We then raised the issue with NPower, which apologises for the difficulties you have had and is arranging to replace the meter. NPower promises to provide a goodwill gesture in recognition of the problems you have had. That goodwill gesture will be to write off some of your next bill, but the company cannot quantify this "until the account has been billed up to date on actual meter readings and the bill is produced". This is likely to take another four weeks or so.
Q. I work for a charity that banks with Santander. It was formerly with the GiroBank, which was taken over by Alliance & Leicester, which was taken over by Santander. For some years our salaries have been paid by bank transfer. A trustee phones the bank and arranges this. This arrangement was set up and approved by the bank. Now, with no notice, Santander has told him that this arrangement has been cancelled for security reasons and in future every transaction must be accompanied by two signatures from trustees. This means that staff will be paid late this month because of the running around required to get the signatures, with possible knock-on effects to their own banks if they go overdrawn in the meantime. In future we will have to go back to cheques because this will be just as easy as arranging forms with two signatures and posting them to Santander! The operator suggested internet banking, but could not say how Santander would arrange this if two people are required for every transaction! Why should a bank be able to change the arrangement for paying regular salary transfers with no notice, regardless of the effect on third parties? The bank can see that similar payments are made every month to the same accounts, so where is the security problem? If this is not stupid enough, Santander has been allowing the charity's account to be raided by unauthorised third parties via direct debit, without any signatures from us whatsoever. This has taken some sorting out and there is no guarantee it won't happen again as they seem to have no system checks on electronic direct debit requests. NS, London.
A. It would seem that the error was in the way the payments were authorised in the past. Santander says it is the new arrangement that conforms with the terms of the account, as agreed between the bank and the charity. A spokeswoman for Santander says: "When the business account was opened with Alliance & Leicester, the application requested that two signatories be required for all transactions. When the account migrated to Santander this arrangement continued. We have listened to calls received from [a trustee of the charity], and he is clear that he does not wish the account to move to a single signatory basis. However, the option is available for [the charity] to change the arrangement so that an individual signatory can transact over the phone. We have provided details of the business banking department, who [the charity] can contact to make this change should they choose to. Unfortunately, [the charity's trustee] was given incorrect information about online access. We have now clarified that internet access on a two-signature account is view only. We have credited [the charity's] account with a goodwill payment of £30 to apologise for this mistake." The issue regarding the payment of direct debits was resolved previously and Santander has previously refunded the charity.
Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at:questionsofcash@ independent.co.uk.
Crowd-to-let: How crowdfunding sites can give investors a slice of the property market for £500
Q&A: What’s the best way to invest for our baby?
Simon Read: 'Seven Families campaign offers an escape from financial and emotional distress'
After the election: What will Britain's financial future look like on 8 May?
General Election 2015: How you vote next week could affect your finances
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
- 5 Teen suffers embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in front of deputy PM
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...
Day In a Page
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park