Sup­plier switch put me in the red

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - READERS’ LETTERS -

We re­ceived a sales call from Scot­tish Power and opened an ac­count with it.

Per­haps naively, fol­low­ing the first phone call to as­sure us that ev­ery­thing was in hand, we did not check we had been moved to a sim­i­lar tar­iff to our pre­vi­ous one. I also, not hav­ing ac­cess to in­ter­net bank­ing and hav­ing started a busy new job, did not check that the di­rect debit I had been as­sured would be set up was ac­tu­ally com­ing out of my ac­count. SC, WEST YORKS

Around six months later you re­ceived a bill from Scot­tish Power for £600. You rang and were as­sured that ev­ery­thing was in or­der and Scot­tish Power would look into it. A month later you re­ceived a fur­ther bill, this

one for £611. You men­tioned that the costs were high com­pared with what you had ex­pected. You then asked for a pay­ment plan.

After that you re­ceived two fi­nal de­mands, the sec­ond say­ing the debt was be­ing trans­ferred to a col­lec­tions agency. You were asked to con­tact the agency ur­gently.

If not there would be costs and some­one would be sent to your house to de­mand pay­ment. If you still did not pay, a court or­der to gain ac­cess would be ap­plied for, in or­der to fit a pre­pay­ment me­ter.

When you were able to con­tact Scot­tish Power it said it could no longer deal with your case as it had al­ready re­ferred it to the debt agency. It gave you a debt ad­vice num­ber and said you had two weeks in which to sort the mat­ter out.

You heard noth­ing fur­ther. Fright­ened over what would hap­pen next, you wrote to me.

You say you suf­fer from de­pres­sion and this prob­lem was ex­ac­er­bat­ing it.

My in­volve­ment led to Scot­tish Power re­billing the ac­count on a cheaper rate for the full pe­riod. This saved you £167. It then set up a pay­ment plan over 22 months for the out­stand­ing bal­ance of £1,100.

How­ever, the first month it took too much. I con­tacted Scot­tish Power again. It ac­knowl­edged the er­ror, blam­ing an au­to­mated sys­tem. As you owe it money, it is not re­turn­ing the sur­plus but in­tends to fac­tor it into fu­ture bills.

It sug­gests that, to get the money back sooner, you could use the di­rect debit guar­an­tee scheme. How­ever, I fear this

could lead to fur­ther com­pli­ca­tions.

I sug­gested you con­tact Na­tional Debtline ei­ther on 0808 808 4000 or on­line at na­tion­ It also has an on­line ad­vice ser­vice pro­vid­ing per­son­alised stepby-step guides avail­able via my­

failed and Mrs S didn’t re­ceive a call from us. This meant the trans­ac­tion re­mained sign­posted as fraud­u­lent and the card was blocked un­til con­tact was es­tab­lished. We’re sorry about this and have cred­ited the ac­count with £50 to apol­o­gise for the in­con­ve­nience.”

You re­port that a pleas­ant per­son has phoned you from Sains­bury’s Bank as­sur­ing you that the bank will con­tact you if, at any time in the fu­ture, the card is blocked. The bank said it had no idea why your two let­ters were not an­swered.

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