A granmother of six is celebrating after her landlord helped wipe out a £1,000 energy bill following an eight-month battle.
Sandra Scott was plunged into the nightmare at the beginning of the year when she called npower to have £200 of account credit refunded into her bank account but was told it was not possible.
Instead, when the 68-year-old was asked to read her meter, the gas and electricity supplier informed her that according to their records she now owed them more than £700.
Then in February, without explanation, Sandra received an even higher bill – for £1,008 – for her home in Kettlewell Terrace, North Shields.
But an Isos gas service engineer found that npower had been reading the wrong meter for the last six years.
Sandra had a new meter fitted in 2008 but npower staff had been taking readings from the meter which belonged to her neighbours, fitted underneath Sandra’s kitchen window.
Although npower admitted liability for reading the wrong meter, they refused to write off Sandra’s debt.
In August, Sandra spoke to Isos’ home energy advice team – known as IHEAT – and financial and social inclusion assistant Warwick Durnian took up the case.
Isos staff were able to reduce the bill to £367.88 but after they contacted the energy ombudsman to ask them to carry out an investigation, npower wrote off the entire bill.
Sandra, who is partially disabled and walks with a stick since having a hip replacement four years ago, said: “I have always paid by my dual fuel account with direct debit and never thought to check the meter reading myself all these years.
“In January I got my statement saying I was more than £200 in credit, but when I asked for the surplus credit to be repaid they asked me to give them a reading.
“When I rang them up to explain it was the start of an absolute nightmare and caused me eight months of worry and sleepless nights.
“When I opened the bill for more than £1,000, I was absolutely horrified.
“What annoys me so much is that they didn’t have the right to ask me for so much money. I had to cancel my direct debit to stop all of my money going out my bank account to pay a bill I didn’t owe.
“Sometimes you have got to make a stand and I didn’t think I should pay for their mistake.
“I’m very grateful to Isos. They’ve been absolutely wonderful.
“When they got involved it got sorted out so quickly.”
Lee Forrest, FSI team leader at Isos, said: “We’re pleased to have been able to settle a very stressful matter for Mrs Scott very quickly, finally allowing her to put her mind at rest.
“The hard work and tenacity from our advisors to get that debt down and to continue to get it down really paid off.
“A lot of people in a similar situation might not have known where to get advice from, taken the bill as read and paid out a lot of money that they didn’t actually owe.
“Isos’ Home Energy Advice Team has been offering tenants help with fuel poverty, fuel debt and bills since April and we’re delighted that it is providing real benefits for our residents.”