EDF charged me £3,500 for a debt I don’t owe – I challenged it and WON and you can too | The Sun

EDF charged me £3,500 for a debt I don’t owe – I challenged it and WON and you can too | The Sun

February 24, 2023

PENSIONER Rick Weightman couldn't fathom why £10 kept coming off his prepayment meter every time he topped up.

He thought it was a meter mistake, but EDF was charging him for an old debt back in 2018 worth £3,452.

But it was a billing error – under rules that protect energy customers from paying old bills, Rick didn't actually owe a penny.

Retiree Rick, 68, from Cheshire, began to notice he needed to top up his prepayment meter much more regularly in the run up to Christmas.

"It was lasting a day with a £20 top up and it didn't make sense," he said.

After a few days of his meter burning through cash, he gave the device a closer inspection.

He noticed that £10 was instantly being deducted every time he topped up, and a message saying "debit" was flashing up on the screen.

When he asked EDF why the money was being taken off, Rick was told there was no debt showing on his account, and that this would stop.

But £10 still kept disappearing every time.

"I spent days on the phone to them," Rick said. "It was stressful – especially when I couldn't get through to speak to anyone."

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After going back and forth with EDF, Rick was finally told that far from being debt-free, he owed £3,452.

"I’m a pensioner now – I wouldn’t be able to afford that bill," Rick said.

The debt turned out to be from years ago, dating all the way back to 2018.

The couple fell into arrears on their bills, and they asked to go onto a prepayment meter so they could budget better.

On a prepayment meter you pay straight away for what you use rather than getting a bill later on.

But the debt was not correctly applied to the meter when the switchover was made, EDF said.

This outstanding debt was only picked up by the supplier late last year – which is when EDF started to claw back the cash from Rick's meter every time he topped up.

However, energy customers are protected by back-billing rules.

If you have not been correctly billed, then suppliers can only chase you for money owed within the last 12 months – and not before.

When The Sun stepped in, EDF wiped the debt clean, which means that Rick doesn't owe anything.

"We are sorry for this mistake and as such our customer services team have spoken to Mr Weightman this morning to put this right by clearing all balances on Mr Weightman’s gas and electricity accounts, in line with back billing," a spokesperson said.

EDF will refund Rick £84 for the money that it took off his meter as well.

What to do if you've been the victim of a billing error

If you’ve been sent a bill you think is incorrect, contact your energy supplier.

Tackle the issue straight away, otherwise it can snowball and get even more expensive and complicated.

Anything from account mix-ups, faulty meters and IT errors could mean you’re being overcharged.

You're protected by backbilling rules, so you can't be charged for gas or electricity used more than 12 months ago.

If you do receive a bill that's from more than a year ago, contact your supplier and complain.

If the problem is not corrected, then you should make a formal complaint to the company.

They'll be a complaints procedure listed on your supplier's website – follow it and submit evidence to back up your complaint, like bills or emails.

Citizens Advice has a template letter you can use.

The company then has eight weeks to come to a decision.

If you don't get a response or you're not happy with the outcome, contact the Energy Ombudsman.

They handle issues between customers and suppliers and will look at your case to see if they can help you deal with the complaint.

You’ll get help with resolving issues on billing, installations and delays, loss of service, customer service, and switching suppliers.

You can follow the complaints procedure on the regulator's website.

You must make your complaint within 12 months.

Once it's made a decision, it'll write to you and if it agrees with your complaint, it'll say what your energy supplier must do to put things right.

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If you choose to accept its decision, your supplier then has 28 days to comply.

If it refuses to, it can be enforced in court.

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