Ask Jes­sica

Fi­nan­cial trou­bleshooter Jes­sica Gorstwilliams is here to help you with your money prob­lems

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Readers’ letters - JL, NORTH YORKS.

Bill hike be­cause I’m not on­line

I am 85 and joined First Util­ity in 2014.

I paid £66 a month by di­rect debit for gas and elec­tric­ity and gave the firm my me­ter read­ings in the first week of each month.

When my con­tract ended late in 2016 I gave First Util­ity my read­ings and dis­cussed the prices for my new con­tract. We agreed £70 per month.

Then, con­trary to that ar­range­ment, I was told that my di­rect debit would be for £78 per month.

I was told the £70 per month deal wouldn’t ap­ply af­ter all be­cause I hadn’t car­ried out the change on­line - al­though I don’t think this was a prob­lem in the past.

As a re­sult, I de­cided to switch to an­other provider.

Then a bill came from First Util­ity for £22, when I be­lieve it owed me £100.

I chal­lenged this fig­ure and was then told that I ac­tu­ally owed £411.


First Util­ity said: “Af­ter we of­fered him the cheap­est deal, which at the time was a tar­iff only avail­able on­line, we emailed a di­rect link to sim­plify the process.

“We are sorry that Mr M found it dif­fi­cult to suc­cess­fully switch his tar­iff on­line and we apol­o­gise for the un­due stress he ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing the process.”

Fur­ther to my in­volve­ment it turned out that First Util­ity had based the high bill on in­cor­rect me­ter read­ings that had been sub­mit­ted.

How­ever, dur­ing the switch­ing process, the new sup­plier pro­vided cor­rect fi­nal bills, which showed that £22 was owed. First Util­ity took this by di­rect debit.

First Util­ity said it is com­pletely trans­par­ent about what tar­iffs there are, which is why you were di­rected to its web­site.

How­ever, it should not go back on a deal you un­der­stood had been agreed. Its spokesman said: “We are very sorry for the confusion Mr M has ex­pe­ri­enced.

“We spent some time re­view­ing his ac­count and lis­ten­ing to the phone calls he made to us be­fore switch­ing sup­plier.

“We can con­firm that, to date, Mr M’s ac­count is fully paid and he is not in debt with First Util­ity.

“We have apol­o­gised to Mr M for any un­due stress we may have caused and sent him copies of his last few in­voices to put his mind at rest about his pay­ments.”

De­spite this you went to the en­ergy om­buds­man which ac­knowl­edged First Util­ity’s ac­tions and closed the com­plaint.

I’m do­ing my first on­line tax re­turn

I will need to file my tax re­turn on­line as I am a bit be­hind af­ter do­ing a pa­per one for the 2016-17 tax year. Is it go­ing to be an enor­mous chore?


For guid­ance on fil­ing on­line see log-in-file-self-as­sess­ment­tax-re­turn.

You can regis­ter for self-as­sess­ment via this link. You can file a pa­per tax

Can M&S re­move my re­view?

I re­cently or­dered flow­ers from Marks & Spencer for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion. On the day of the ex­pected de­liv­ery I re­ceived an email say­ing the flow­ers were not go­ing to be de­liv­ered (no rea­son given).

Mul­ti­ple calls were made to M&S. Sub­se­quently the order was ac­ci­den­tally can­celled by its call cen­tre. Var­i­ous man­agers failed to call me back and a re­place­ment bunch was even­tu­ally de­liv­ered four days later.

I then re­ceived an au­to­mated re­quest from M&S for an on­line re­view. I duly com­pleted it in a fac­tual and ac­cu­rate way. To my sur­prise M&S has re­fused to pub­lish it as it is “about the de­liv­ery ex­pe­ri­ence” – not the prod­uct.

Surely when you are pay­ing for flow­ers to be de­liv­ered both the “de­liv­ery ex­pe­ri­ence” and “prod­uct” are rel­e­vant?

A reader faced a four-day de­lay af­ter or­der­ing flow­ers from M&S

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