Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Midwife paid neighbour's energy bill for six years after meter mix-up

A retired midwife was left paying her neighbour’s bills for six years due to a crossed meter.

Judith Stenner, 72 and from Manchester, said it had been ‘a bit of a marathon’ to sort the situation out with ScottishPower.

She saw her bills increase from £60 a month to more than £400 – but Judith was just told she was a ‘high energy user’, prompting her to reduce her energy usage by any means possible.

Those methods included rarely cooking at home and keeping the heating off during winter.

Judith, a mum of two, said she went into a ‘numb phase that nobody is believing you and nobody is listening’ as she struggled to resolve the issue and her bills kept rising despite becoming a ‘bit obsessive about switching everything off all the time’.

Her daughter Semra Kurutac passed the issue to Judith’s MP, Afzal Khan, who raised her case in the House of Commons.

After that intervention it was revealed she had been paying the energy bills of the family-of-four next door for most of the six years she lived in the flat.

The crossed meters were identified this summer – but it took ScottishPower 14 weeks to fix the problem.

Judith questioned how many other people are experiencing similar treatment with other companies, including energy firms.

She said she moved into the flat in 2016 but the error became more obvious in 2018 and 2019 when there was a hike in her bills after a family became her neighbours.

She said ‘my head was a shed’ trying to deal with the issue, saying: ‘You’re just not thinking logically. I’m used to fighting battles in the NHS, I’m used to defending women, I’m used to all sorts of issues, but personally I didn’t realise it at the time but, as they say up here, that did my head in.’

She said it felt as though a ‘weight has gone off my shoulders’ following the intervention in the House of Commons, saying: ‘I’ve gone past crying, I’ve gone past shouting, you just go into a numb phase that nobody is believing you and nobody is listening, what am I going to do.

‘But fortunately, which I should have done sooner, once my daughter was involved with her partner, they just took things in hand and that’s where we are today.

‘It’s been a bit of a marathon and I’m very grateful to everybody, but I just hope there’s a possible wider implication that my case could be a positive help for other people.’

A ScottishPower spokeswoman said: ‘We’re really sorry about the issues and distress experienced by Mr Khan’s constituent, which is unacceptable and falls far below the level of service we aim to provide.

‘Since we visited the property and identified the crossed meter issue at the start of the summer, we’ve been working with the other energy supplier involved – who also had to take certain actions – to get this matter sorted as quickly as possible.

‘We’re now at the point where we will be able to accurately calculate the constituent’s actual energy usage and costs and we are in touch with her directly and with Mr Khan’s office.

‘We apologise again that it has taken longer than we would have liked to resolve this matter.’

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