Questions of Cash: April 2015

Q. I changed my energy supplier last December from Scottish Power to OVO Energy.  After a few weeks, I received a final statement from Scottish Power. All the necessary paperwork from OVO arrived, but I heard nothing more from Scottish Power. On 5 February, I noticed my bank account had been debited by Scottish Power for £50. I stopped the direct debit and telephoned Scottish Power, who told me there had been a mistake in not closing my electricity account, that I was due a refund of about £430 and that this would be paid into my bank account in ten days. On 16 February, I rang again because the money had not appeared and was told I had been misinformed, that it could take up to six weeks to close the account. I lodged a complaint and was told I would be phoned on 19 February, but I heard nothing so I rang again on 23 February. I was then told that a cheque had been issued and should arrive with me by 9 March. No money appeared, so on 10 March 2015 I phoned once more, when I was told that my complaint was not an ‘official complaint’, but would now be regarded as one.   I was now told there had been an error on my account and that I am owed £ I was promised the complaints team would contact me within three days, but I have heard nothing more and still not received the refund.  JS, Exeter.

A. Reader complaints about Scottish Power continue to arrive with Questions of Cash: the company clearly needs to improve its systems and its complaints handling arrangements.  The good news is that your complaint has now been properly addressed.  A spokesman for Scottish Power says: “We sincerely apologise for the delay in resolving this matter, and for any inconvenience caused.  In summary, a final refund could not be issued to [the reader] due to a human administrative error.  This has now been resolved and [the reader] has been sent a cheque for £458.45. We have also offered £75 as a goodwill payment, to apologise for any inconvenience this matter may have caused.” You tell us you are very happy with this outcome.

Q.  I have had a problem with Scottish Power since September 2013 and in desperation I am turning to you in the hope that you can resolve it.  Scottish Power has been billing me for the wrong account, using a different meter number from mine.  I am happy and able to pay the correct bill – but when will they ever send me the correct bill?  Every time I have received the bill I have phoned to explain it is wrong – this has probably happened ten times, or more.  No one has ever responded, except that I receive the same standard letter of apology – but nothing changes. To make matters worse, Scottish Power threatened to register a default notice against me and send a debt collection agency round!  This has now been rescinded, but I want to move house and I can’t until this is resolved. CS, London.

A.  A spokesman for Scottish Power says: “We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this matter caused.  Unfortunately we were billing [the reader’s] gas usage against an incorrect meter number, this has now been corrected and account updated.   In way of an apology we have offered to write-off £110.57 – 50 per cent of the bill – as a goodwill payment. [The reader] has accepted our offer and is satisfied with outcome.”

Q. I was in dispute with Dell over a laptop they sent me which differed from my order, but for which I was charged by American Express.  You helped me get the cost credited to my account (Questions of Cash, 3 August, 2013).  But AmEx took legal action against me, which was struck out in 2013 and a subsequent attempt to reinstate it in May 2014 failed. The only matter still outstanding is to agree costs, which are to be settled by AmEx on the standard basis for a failed court action. As I was a ‘litigant in person’ to keep costs down, I expected these to be settled promptly.  But I am still waiting for costs to be agreed and settled.  Recently I thought I was getting somewhere, having contacted Amex’s credit relations department directly and, as a result, having received a (without prejudice) response from their solicitors to the effect that they would seek AmEx’s further instructions. This response was dated 24 October and I replied positively on 4 November. Despite a reminder I have since heard nothing.  AmEx’s solicitors made a number of administrative mistakes which caused the claim to be struck out.  The solicitors have since apologised to me in writing for apparent misrepresentation. Perhaps you can help me again in order to get the costs paid?  HN, London.

A.  You contacted us at the end of last year with this matter and it has taken us several weeks to obtain a full response from American Express.  Its spokeswoman says: “[The reader] stopped making payments on his £13,684.41 balance in 2011, of which a small amount was related to the purchase of a laptop. We made concerted efforts to discuss this outstanding balance with him to no avail.  We issued legal proceedings to reclaim this balance but as a consequence of an administration error, related to receipt of documents in advance of the legal hearing, the claim was struck out. Consequently [the reader] was not required to settle his outstanding balance and legal costs were awarded. [The reader] submitted to us a claim for these costs and we subsequently agreed an amount in settlement which was paid in February.”

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