Your prob­lems

Bri­tish Gas and npower both in­sist they sup­ply us

The Observer - - Cash - Anna Tims

My wife and I moved to our new home 18 months ago and there has been con­fu­sion over who sup­plies us with gas. Npower was sup­ply­ing the prop­erty pre­vi­ously. We re­quested to switch to Bri­tish Gas and were told there was a prob­lem.

Both npower and Bri­tish Gas claim they sup­ply us and over the past year both have sent de­mands for pay­ment and debt col­lec­tors’ let­ters. There ap­pears to be a phan­tom me­ter and no one can agree which one is ours. Dur­ing a tele­phone con­fer­ence call last year both ar­gued with each other over whose cus­tomer we are.

Ten months ago, npower even­tu­ally ad­mit­ted it was not our sup­plier, re­funded our pay­ments and closed the ac­count. We thought that was the end of it and set up a direct debit with Bri­tish Gas.

Then npower once again be­gan send­ing de­mands and a debt col­lec­tion threat. It now claims it is our sup­plier – as does Bri­tish Gas to whom we pay by direct debit each month. We have lived for more than a year un­der threat of bailiffs en­ter­ing our prop­erty and are at our wits’ end.

AF, Brighton

The most de­press­ing as­pect of your or­deal is that, in the glare of the me­dia spot­light, it took the com­pa­nies mere hours to clear up the con­fu­sion. Bri­tish Gas ac­knowl­edged that, al­though it has been pock­et­ing your money for the past 10 months, it is not your sup­plier. And npower dis­cov­ered that it made a mis­take when it as­serted that you were not its cus­tomer and closed your ac­count.

The fact that both billed you us­ing vari­a­tions of your ad­dress, none of which of­fi­cially ex­ist, is a clue to the fi­asco.

Bri­tish Gas tells me two me­ters were reg­is­tered to the prop­erty on the na­tional data­base, one supplied by npower and the other by it­self. It ac­knowl­edged this should have been es­tab­lished far sooner and, to show its re­morse, is cred­it­ing you with a some­what miserly £60 com­pen­sa­tion for the stress and the threats, as well as a re­fund of all the bills you’ve paid them. Npower has de­ducted £200 from the amount you owe it dur­ing the pe­riod you were pay­ing its ri­val.

It would be good to re­port that all was now sorted, ex­cept that on the let­ter in­form­ing you of the res­o­lu­tion, it still got your ad­dress wrong.

Dou­ble trou­ble as we pay for eDream er­ror

My part­ner was to be best man at a wed­ding in Malaysia, so we booked tick­ets to Kuala Lumpur through eDreams. The out­go­ing flight was with Saudi Ara­bian Air­lines and the home flight with Oman Air. The next day, we re­alised that my part­ner’s sur­name had been en­tered twice on the ticket. EDreams in­sisted it could not be changed so we had to can­cel his flights and buy new tick­ets, re­ceiv­ing only a par­tial re­fund for the orig­i­nals.

Then we were told our out­bound flight had been can­celled and that al­ter­na­tives were fully booked, and that our only op­tion was to get a full re­fund from Saudi. Though we could see on­line there were still tick­ets at a higher price, we didn’t ar­gue and re­quested the re­fund.

We were told we could not get a full re­fund for the re­turn flights be­cause they were not can­celled (even though we now had no way of get­ting there as we didn’t have the funds to re­book out­bound flights at a rate now dou­ble the orig­i­nal).

Three months later, we have only re­ceived half of the £630 re­fund due for the out­ward-bound flight and half of the par­tial re­fund promised for the re­turn flight.

We have con­tacted eDreams sev­eral times and it has just stopped re­ply­ing. The air­lines refuse to speak to us di­rectly as it was booked through eDreams.

We have lost hun­dreds of pounds on a trip we were not able to go on and it sadly also meant there was no best man at the wed­ding.

AN, York Your ex­pe­ri­ence is all the more shock­ing be­cause the re­peated sur­name that in­val­i­dated your orig­i­nal ticket was not of your do­ing. Last year I re­ported the cases of sev­eral cus­tomers of eDreams’ sis­ter com­pany Opodo who had ex­pe­ri­enced the same prob­lem and been asked to pay for amended or new tick­ets.

Only when I tack­led Opodo did it ad­mit to a tech­ni­cal fault and agree to reis­sue tick­ets for free.

Opodo and eDreams are part of travel gi­ant Odi­geo, which seems to have learnt noth­ing. Once again, it was only af­ter me­dia in­ter­ven­tion it ad­mit­ted the mis­take was its fault. “There was a tech­ni­cal er­ror on our web­site ear­lier this year which meant that some cus­tomers’ names were in­cor­rectly listed on their flight book­ings,” it says.

Two days af­ter I con­tacted the press of­fice – and four months af­ter you first com­plained – you were given a full re­fund for both flights. And what about com­pen­sa­tion? Edreams has of­fered a £40 voucher to each of you, so you can en­joy the sus­pense of book­ing all over again.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.prob­lems@ob­ or write to Your Prob­lems, The Ob­server, Kings Place, 90 York Way, Lon­don N1 9GU. In­clude an ad­dress and phone num­ber. Sub­mis­sion and pub­li­ca­tion are sub­ject to our terms and con­di­tions: see­ters-terms

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