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.
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 3 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 The Tory donor whose firm is one of Britain’s biggest tax avoiders - with HMRC's blessing
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
iJobs Money & Business
£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £25K: SThree: SThree Group has been well estab...
competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This really is a fantastic chance to joi...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...
£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar