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: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

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

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk