Cost of living: Three tips to save money on energy bills
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A Scottish couple were horrified to find their energy bill had gone from being in credit to over £13,000 in debt in a single night. Stewart Neely and wife Gayle usually pay £156 a month to OVO Energy for gas and electric on their four-bed detached house.
The erroneous energy bill comes at a time when many are worried about their energy consumption as household costs become increasingly unaffordable.
Many homes in Britain are opting to keep the heating off for as long as possible over the winter over fears they will be unable to pay for soaring energy prices.
Last Monday, Mr Neely said his account with the supplier was in credit by £189.99.
However, when he checked the following day, it was £13,037.71 in arrears – a difference of a massive £13,227.70.
The 54-year-old claimed previous meter readings and statements had been altered to reflect the higher bill.
Mr Neely, a police officer in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, said he and his wife were made OVO customers after the company bought their previous provider, SSE.
He told the Daily Record: “We are always in credit on our account, but I have been keeping a close eye on the bills and usage due to rising costs.
“Last week, I checked my online account and it was £189 in credit, as expected.
“However, last Tuesday I checked my account and to my horror discovered I was £13,000 in debt.”
The dad-of-one believes the problem started when the couple had a smart meter installed in October.
It was only weeks after it was introduced that the bank-busting bill appeared.
Mr Neely said he contacted OVO and was shocked when the customer services representative asked if he wanted to settle the balance over the phone – apparently missing the problem.
It was only after he took the matter to the press this weekend that the energy supplier – which was ranked the second-worst for customer service by Citizens Advice in July – contacted the couple to fix the error.
Wife Gayle, 48, said: “I got a nice call from OVO to say everything was sorted and to say a £150 credit had been added to our account as a good will gesture.
“It turns out if had been one of their agents that had entered an electricity reading as a gas one.”
She added that she was “in no doubt we wouldn’t have had it resolved as quickly” if the couple hadn’t gone to the press about the issue.
When approached for comment, an OVO spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry to Mr and Mrs Neely.
“We have corrected the error and they’ve accepted a goodwill amount in apology for the inconvenience caused.”
Headquartered in Bristol, OVO launched in 2009 as the brain-child of Stephen Fitzpatrick, a businessman with an estimated personal wealth of £675million.
In January 2020, OVO agreed that it would pay £8.9million into Ofgem’s voluntary redress fund following an investigation by the regulator into instances of under- and over-charging.
It found that inaccurate annual statements had been sent to over half a million of the supplier’s customers between 2015 and 2018.
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