I have never been a customer of Scottish Power, but when I moved last year I started getting welcome letters from the company. It took days on the phone to persuade it I was with British Gas.
Over the following months it allocated several account numbers to me, and then switched my supply over from British Gas.
Eventually, I was reassured the meter numbers attached to my name would be removed; soon after that, my neighbours upstairs had their power switched off.
British Gas reinstated my electricity account but with the address of my neighbour. Their address subsequently appeared as a previous address on my credit report, and it took weeks to get this sorted.
Just weeks later, a letter from Scottish Power confirmed a new account had been set up for me.
Fed up with both companies, I transferred my electricity account to Bulb Energy. However, Scottish Power continued to bill me.
It said it would put a lock on the erroneous account to stop bailiffs appearing at my door, and confirmed that the bills should have gone to the flat downstairs.
Eight months later a debt collector arrived to serve me a warrant. The address was “Flat 1” instead of my Flat 1/1 and the meter number didn’t correspond to mine so I refused to accept it. He suggested the next step would be for my meter to be forcibly removed. I have had a year of this hassle.
Your ordeal is depressingly similar to that of another British Gas customer hounded by Scottish Power for £7,000 and threatened with bailiffs despite never having held an account with them. As in your case, this elderly lady’s flat had been confused with a neighbour’s because of a near identical address format.
Also, as in your case, Scottish Power only stopped its pursuit when the Observer waded in.
At that point it conceded that it does not supply you and you owe it no money, and that the debt collection agent was directed in error “due to the incomplete nature of the flat addresses held on our records and the central database”. It has paid you £250 in goodwill.
British Gas declined to comment, but confirmed that your address had been wrongly recorded.
It’s not uncommon for meter numbers in conversion properties to be assigned to the wrong flat if more than one goes by the same door number, but when the confusion is identified companies should update their records speedily.
If they don’t, customers can take their complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.
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