Questions Of Cash: Scottish Power is trying to charge me for its mistakes


Q. I make a monthly, direct debit payment to my energy supplier, Scottish Power, for an Economy 7 tariff, with storage heaters providing my main heating. I live alone in a two-bedroom terraced house. Almost 12 months ago, I told Scottish Power that I was being billed for more electricity in the daytime than overnight, which did not fit in with my use. I suggested my meter readings had become transposed and this turned out to be the case.

In June 2011 I received refunds on both my electricity and gas accounts and my monthly direct debit was reassessed accordingly. The problem re-emerged in September and I told Scottish Power that it had misrecorded my meter readings. Again, the matter was resolved and agreement reached that I was in credit.

But in December I was informed that I was £1,356 in debt. Scottish Power now says that the refunds were issued in error. My direct debit has jumped from £72 to £112 to repay the balance. This is grossly unfair and I am expected to meet the cost of Scottish Power's mistakes. It also flies in the face of Scottish Power's customer charter relating to accurate and timely bills, prevention of debt build-up, and regular checks to ensure direct debit payments closely match the amount of energy used. PJ, Bury.

A. Scottish Power accepts that it wrongly billed you. A spokeswoman says: "We carried out a full investigation into [the reader's] account and due to errors on our part we have decided to clear the outstanding balance. We apologise for the inconvenience."

Q. I inherited my aunt's terraced house in Burry Port, Wales. Welsh Water's fees for sewage are massive compared to London, even though my house in West Hampstead is far bigger. No one else can supply the water in Wales and the additional drains bill is a rip-off. GS, London.

A. Welsh Water is owned by the not-for-profit company Glas Cymru. A spokeswoman for Glas Cymru says: "Our charges may be higher than other water companies because we serve a very large geographical area with a relatively small population, compared with most other parts of England and Wales. We therefore have more pipes, sewers and equipment to operate and maintain than other water companies. All of this is reflected in the level of bills charged to customers, which are set by the water industry regulator Ofwat. It is important to note, however, that as a result of our operating and financing efficiency, our average household bills will be 6 per cent lower in real terms in 2015 compared to 2001 when Glas Cymru took over ownership."

Q. For the past three years, I have owned an apartment in Dubai, which I let through property agents Mayfair International, based at Marble Arch Tower in London. The tenant pays three cheques a year through an agency in Dubai, E-Valuations. I am supposed to receive an electronic payment as soon as the agent in Dubai has received a cheque. This worked well until 18 months ago, since when all the payments have been a month or so late.

The latest payment was apparently made by the tenant on 4 November, yet I am still waiting for it. I cannot get hold of anyone in either the London or Dubai offices, other than the managing director, Amani Choudry. I expected to have this money by now and need it to pay bills. She has told me four times that an electronic payment has been authorised in Dubai. The rental agreement runs out on 4 March and I have appointed another agent to handle thereafter. DP, by email.

A. The phone number for Mayfair International now rings unobtainable and we were unable to find a listing for an office of E-Valuations in Dubai. (We did locate other businesses called "E-Valuations", and similar, that are unconnected to the Dubai agency.) We spoke to Amani Choudry at the beginning of January, who told us that the Mayfair International business in London is no longer trading. Ms Choudry claimed that a payment had been delayed by the Christmas and New Year holidays and would be with you by the second week of January. She explained that the Dubai agency was responsible for the delay. Ms Choudry also told us that the payment would be considerably less than the amount you expected. You tell us that previous payments have not been accompanied by any explanation for how the amount was calculated.

We requested from Ms Choudry the details for the Dubai agency in order to contact them to request a reconciliation of the amount that you believe you were due and the sum that Ms Choudry indicated would be paid. Although she repeatedly promised to provide this information, she failed to do so. Eventually, at the end of January, a firm offer of a final payment of rent collected was made by Ms Choudry. This consists of 6,000 Arab Emirates Dirham, less deductions for cleaning, fitting a new shower and toilet seat and related labour, providing a net payment of AED 4730 – about £819 – which you have agreed to accept. Part of the reason for the delay seems to be a loss of mutual goodwill following your instruction towards the end of last year to the Dubai agency to sell the apartment. You changed your mind after the agency apparently undertook a substantial amount of work to sell the property.

Ms Choudry advised you to accept the offer of rent, less deductions. She wrote to you: "I feel that they have been really fair to you. Especially after the fact that you decided not to sell when they spent three months trying to achieve your target price." Apparently you did not get independent legal advice when conducting the sale or appointing an agent in Dubai. We suggest that professional advice should be taken when entering into such an important transaction and that suitable references are obtained before appointing a property agent in another country.

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:

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Life and Style
Sony Computer Entertainment President and Group CEO Andrew House, executive in charge of Sony Network Entertainment, introduces PlayStation Now
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

    Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

    Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

    Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

    Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

    Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

    Day In a Page

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?