A bedridden pensioner who suffered a year of frustration at the hands of an energy giant has received a £760 payout, thanks to the help of the Northumberland Gazette.
Fay Trotter, 85, has spent the past year being ‘hounded’ by npower with reminders and debt-collection threats for money she never owed for bills she never received. Now the Gazette has helped her resolve it.
The pensioner moved from her home in Seahouses at the beginning of 2014 after falling ill and needing full-time care at Alnwick’s Hillcrest care home. Her daughter-in-law Tonia Trotter began the long procedure to close her account.
As her condition deteriorated, Tonia took over as a legal financial appointee, which allows someone to take control of a person’s finances, similar to power of attorney.
On December 9, Fay received a reminder for an outstanding balance of £5,442.64 which was followed 10 days later by a second to ask why she hadn’t paid the bill, with the threat of a debt collection notice which was sent to her on Monday.
npower told Tonia that it wasn’t allowed to speak to her as she wasn’t the account holder.
The energy giant explained that its company policy requests power of attorney or a written letter from Fay to allow Tonia to take control.
The provider said there was an error when a final meter was read, which triggered the £5k bill.
Tonia said the bill was the ‘final straw’ in a series of correspondence she deemed as ‘harassment on a 85-year-old woman’.
In March 2014, when Fay left her home, Tonia complained to the provider that they hadn’t received a final bill for the account during 2013. The reply to Tonia’s complaint came three months later.
In June, npower realised it had charged the pensioner the incorrect amount during 2013 and credited her account with £232.86 and closed the account in August.
“We’ve had no bill at all,” Tonia said. “I’ve just had these reminders in the last two weeks and I haven’t heard from them since August 1 and now they won’t even speak to me. It’s ridiculous.”
Despite npower claiming it couldn’t speak to Tonia, a spokesman readily disclosed the situation to the Gazette and told us of the £762 payout she will receive.
npower said that when the bill was corrected, Fay was owed more than £600 in credit and given £100 as a goodwill gesture.
“We’re really sorry to hear about Mrs Trotter’s experience. Unfortunately, she has received an incorrect statement. We’ll be writing off the remaining balance to say sorry.”
Issue with ‘financial appointee to act’
npower refused to speak to Tonia, ‘unsure’ whether it was in line with the Data Protection Act. The company told the Gazette that the ‘legal financial appointee to act’ is not sufficient to warrant full control of the account.
“I’ve sorted everything from banks to hospitals. If they don’t call £5,500 financial, I don’t know what is.”