I’ve lived in my current home for a little over a year. I like it, it’s a nice flat I share with my boyfriend. It’s close to the centre of town and it’s not too far to walk to work and we can see the river from our windows.
We have electricity but no gas. When I moved in (a couple of months before he did) the electricity was paid for via a prepayment key meter. This involved a little key thing you take to local corner shops and newsagents to top up. They give you a code that you punch into your meter and you stick the key in. Then you’ve got £20 worth of power and that just lasts as long as it lasts.
I’m sure you can understand why I didn’t want that. I dreaded waking up in the morning and discovering that I couldn’t take a shower and that everything in my freezer had defrosted overnight because I’d run out of power. It was a very uncomfortable thought. So, I called Scottish Power to ask them to swap it. It’s not free to swap (it cost £50) but I thought it was worth it.
They made a prediction about what my monthly payments would be and I set up a direct debit. We made arrangements for someone to come and swap the meters. He never showed up, so they sent me a check to say sorry for wasting my time and made new arrangements. This time he did show up and he swapped the meters just fine.
No money came out via direct debit. I called them. They said it would come out the following month. It didn’t. I called them again – they couldn’t do anything. I sent emails. They couldn’t do anything. I sent meter readings and they didn’t go anywhere. They suggested I call and pay over the phone but I was unwilling to donate random amounts to a company who had no idea how much I owed them. At one point they made another appointment to install an ordinary meter – I called to cancel it because I already had an ordinary meter. At a later point they sent a bill that was entirely made up, I genuinely have no idea where the numbers came from and when I called to ask about it, they had no record of having sent it.
At this point, I’d probably spent more energy trying to pay a company for a service I was using than anyone else ever has. It would have been easier to just keep coasting along and not paying. Meanwhile, my boyfriend and I had been putting money aside every month in anticipation of Scottish Power eventually getting their act together and trying to bill us for several months at once.
Eventually, the energy ombudsman, Ofgem, got involved. They asked me for the whole story as well as all of my correspondence with Scottish Power, which I sent. Having reviewed this they said that Scottish Power should start billing us with a monthly direct debit as we originally agreed, that they should set up a fair payment plan, that they should send us a letter of apology and they should send us a check to cover our inconvenience. They said, “if you agree Scottish Power are required by law to comply within 30 days.”
I said, “I agree.” Because, obviously.
They said (I’m paraphrasing), “Cool. By the way, they’ll never actually manage to achieve this within 30 days because they’re in the middle of a huge administrative disaster of some kind. If they don’t succeed in 30 days they do, at least, have to send you a letter once a month to let you know they’re still trying.”
I said, “Fine.” I was just happy to know things would eventually be fixed since by this point I’d been trying to get it sorted for about 8 months.
As predicted, they failed to fix it for about another three months, although they did send the check and the letter of apology. As an additional bonus, they also said that we wouldn’t have to pay for any electricity at all from the date when things started to go wrong to the date when they made them go right. Remember how we had been setting money aside? That was now ours to keep. Almost a year’s worth of energy bills were now free.
Now everything has been fixed and is running smoothly. We’re paying bills monthly by direct debit and they’re about as expensive as we’d expect. However, if you’re having trouble with your energy company (and plenty of people are) I strongly recommend you get in touch with Ofgem, because this is the story of how my energy company bought me a holiday to the Caribbean.
Originally posted here: http://unazukin210.tumblr.com/post/128563049610/scottish-power
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