Energy firms that are not fitting the bill: In the last issue I marvelled at Extra Energy’s inability to bill Huw Griffiths for his electricity supply for 10 months. Huw had been putting the money aside in a big tin as he reckoned the bill was around £20K.
This prompted two retailers to get in touch, one anonymously for quite an entertaining reason.
First to comment was June Masson, general manager at Portsoy Motors in Banff, who also has an issue with Extra Energy after switching from supplier Scottish Power last June.
"It was supposed to be a monthly direct debit but nothing was taken out of our account we are usually about £300 per month.
"They sent a bill on 23rd August for £1,889 and promptly took the full amount by direct debit. I could not access the bill online and it took three long phone calls to get that resolved."
But then, once she saw the bill, she realised that the opening readings they had used were wrong. "They were higher than the readings I took on 10th September and where they got them from I have no idea. I had to contact Scottish Power, our previous supplier, and get the final bill from them we were in credit to the tune of £160 and a cheque was sent out promptly when I asked for it.
"I cancelled the direct debit to Extra Energy because I had given them (or they had taken) £1,889, which I was not due to pay. They then sent another bill in November for £2,334 and, because the direct debit was cancelled, they got an agency involved.
"I had tried to contact Extra Energy by phone but after being on hold for ages and going round in a few circles I gave up. At least the agency saw sense and a meter reader was sent! On the 29th January I was told on the phone that the bill was being redone and everything would be resolved I’ve heard nothing.
"To date we have still not reached the opening meter readings what a mess and if anyone speaks about Extra Energy I would advise a wide berth. Customer service is shocking and I wish we had stayed with Scottish Power."
So, at the moment, the business is sitting on £1,889 in credit with Extra Energy.
"Eventually we will use the electricity but it’s not really an ideal situation," says June.
Perhaps they’ll read this article June, and send you a cheque.
Mr Anon wrote to me: "Same story here as Huw Griffiths except that my last bill from my former supplier was in Dec 2014!
"Having said that, a contractor just fitted a new meter this very morning so things may get sorted now. My biggest concern is the huge amount of VAT that I am owed once I pay. I have, like Huw, stashed a few quid away ready for the humongous bill I am predicting, but I have no intention of paying until the end of the next VAT quarter to protect my cashflow.
"I have not had any communication whatsoever from Extra neither have I contacted them so, if you add this to your column please preserve my anonymity."
And his parting shot was: "I do like a bit of credit!"
As a PS to this I would add that, last October, the Consumers’ Association Which? asked nearly 9,000 energy customers to rate their energy suppliers on customer service, the way they dealt with complaints, accuracy, clarity of bills and so on.
Out of 22 energy companies, Extra Energy came 19th. Mind you Scottish Power fared worse, coming in at number 21.
And, in case you were wondering, Npower came last.
The little things that mean a lot
It’s often the little things that can irritate the life out of you.
I had an email from John Smith (yes, his real name!) who runs Mile End Service Station in Neath.
He writes: "I had a comprehensive shop refit a year or so back, done by Mace, but the delivery schedule failed to include the POS ticket holders for the hooks, (little plastic holders for the price tickets)." John tidied up his desk and stumbled upon the original delivery schedule and discovered that the hooks (along with a lot of expensive shelving items) were meant to be supplied by Nabco.
He had a look at its website which he says claimed ’Placing and (sic) order with Nabco couldn’t be easier. Please call a member of our dedicated sales team’.
This, he found, turned out to be not quite the case.
"It seems that as an end user of their shop equipment, I am not eligible to purchase spares as they only supply shopfitters and symbol groups; funny it doesn’t mention that on their website.
"A couple of phone calls later and I still failed to get them to see the absurdity of their attitude."
As he points out: "If I ran my business this way I wouldn’t last long! I’m so glad that I am able to supply anybody with the means to pay."
But there was a happy ending. "The lovely helpful folks at RS Sales stock a similar item and gladly sold them to me. I just hope they don’t source them from Nabco. I voted with my feet!"
Later on I got a follow up email: "After I sent that to you they did send me a quotation and then called for payment; perhaps they saw sense after all but I had by then ordered elsewhere as mentioned. Their loss!"