Ombudsman, ScottishPower both ignore evidence and correct resolution

ElaniArtin
ElaniArtin Posts: 62
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edited 20 October 2023 at 11:03AM in Energy
Since 2018, I have recorded many screens (chat screenshots, submitted evidence by Scottish Power, messages/communications from both) showing so many errors over many years, during which they overcharged me and also applied debt charges. Scottish Power admitted to ombudsman their previous accounting system failure ('we assigned different account numbers but then remained with the original one, and so forth') and admitted that they did not respond to my many contact efforts to resolve these problems.
(Previously, 2017, SP refused to refund my overpayment and only when CAB stepped in, did they refund me the £800.00 they had kept back from me. My monthly bills were less than £50.00. This was up to 2017, when billing was more simple, and my credit amount could be seen, and CAB had authority to step in. Since then I have been constantly vigilant over these bills. Immediately I began seeing inflated bills once more.)

2019 I opened a claim with OE.  Ombudsman's decision outlined a revised and corrected bill without estimated readings.
Scottish Power did not respond to Ombudsman for two years, then submitted what the OE called a data dump of blank pages they said were the bills.  I  had to repeatedly ask ombudsman to act, and they 'escalated' 3 times. The final result was no corrected billing but instead, 3 different spreadsheets as 'statement of account' and 'statement of information,' which only offer more errors and unexplained charges.
In these 6 years Scottish Power has added more and more complications abuses so as to complicate any logical resolution:  they often bill many times within one month, or even when actual readings were supplied and the bill was paid in full they rebill several months in together as if I owed for 'this period,'   they record cancelled charges that have no relation to anything while simultaneeously submitting falsely  'no payment made,'  they move the bill dates around from just after the submitted actual readings to later in the month, to enable them to sneak in an estimated reading or charge a late fee.

 I have been repeatedly failed by the ombudsman as it appears they don't actually read any of the uploaded evidence files and certainly not the final spreadsheets which don't add up and violate the original decisions. I have all the hard evidence...all is documented.

1. Submitted evidence to OE by SP is numerous files, all blank pages. EO said 'we'll check with SP and get back to you.' No result.

2. My screenshot of a double billing of the same exact amount on the same date/time: SP chat a year on from the billing error insisted this was the invoice and I was to pay it. SP only corrected this in the spreadsheet more than 2 years later, explained away as the accounting error, now rebilled in the following year!   and OE accepts this, which means they are accepting that Sp can cover up their fraud by simply putting the charge on any date, not the date of the usage reading!

3. Now in 2023, a first spreadsheet was sent me by ombudsman was wrong, admitted to being so by the ombudsman, that he had been in error. This was supposed to be the resolution, and OE closed the case. I queried and OE said they would check with SP again.

4. Second spreadsheet arrives with different numbers but essentially the same: maths errors, mysterious entries I had not seen before, bills that did not correspond, cancellations over months with rebilling, no metre readings corresponding to billings, a category mysteriously titled 'consumption billing credit' which sometimes is a + and other times a -, no explanation. Charges have a note of whether the reading was actual or estimated, no numbers, no detail if it was gas or electric. Estimated charges remain alongside actual charges( meaning I am being charged both the estimated and the actual usage!) When I pointed this out there was no answer to this by the ombudsman. Again I queried the estimated readings still remain charged.

5. Third spreadsheet contains numerous mathematical errors, and as the previous, do not have readings attached to the bills, just a notation of 'actual reading' or 'estimated reading.'
Even though all three spreadsheets have different numbers, dates, and added categories inbetween but they all arrive at approximately' -£1200.00 debt I owe.'
SP have re-listed the dates going forward, then backward and charged for the difference in usage going forwards backward and forward again. 

       May 2021 63010 real reading
       Jul  2021 63477 est....billed  as if 3477-3010 = 467 gas units billed
       Sep 2021 63010 real...billed as if 3010-3477 = 467 gas units billed
       Oct 2021 64149 real... billed as if 3010-4149 = 1,139 gas units billed     
The same for electricity. 
My OE complaint began on July 2019, so this occured during the complaint!

6. All metre records, including a SAR request, show readings that jump forward and back again.

7. 'Returns send to the customer from DD payments' occured when they tried to direct debit me twice on one day. My bank did not pay the second attempt, however it appears as a charge in my bill on the spreadsheet.

Now, Citizens Advice Bureau, Macmillan advisors, my next door neighbour, everyone that promotes themselves as support only refer me to debt charities as if I don't know how to pay my bills, and this offends me.  I don't need charity, I can pay it, as painful as it would be. 

They default to 'the Ombudsman is the last authority.'  The OE, and all these charities glance at a Scottish Power spreadsheet and without looking at the numbers they assume it is authoritative, when the lies are right there, blatant! 
Even though Scottish Power has admitted fault, and just because they provide a 'corrected balance spreadsheet,' they do not question that I will have to pay hundreds in debt advisory charges applied when they were over-billing me. I am getting notices from a debt collection agency.

I am 62yo. have lived in 3 different countries, have always paid my bills and they have always been clear. All countries' energy companies manage to bill me correctly. Any company, any government service I have worked with would have been severely prosecuted for what Scottish Power is able to do here.

There are many news stories and previous attempts by government to make them repay false debt to customers; why does everyone roll over? Is there no one? any one? any way to be supported in standing up to this abusive company?









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Comments

  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,251
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    I get why you want this to be resolved and done correctly but why haven't you switched to some other provider?  I wouldn't have the head space to deal with this so many years in a row.
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,617
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    edited 19 October 2023 at 5:05PM
    I don't think you can switch if there is debt on your record
  • Because their rates were the best on THIS website(haha) and I thought it was a genuine mistake the first time, so I signed with them again. Once I was hooked in and they started with the over estimated bills it spiraled and I could never get out from under it. Even when I realized what was happening I still could not believe they could get away with it, and I kept calling and chatting with them to try to resolve. They sometimes promised to send corrected bills but never followed through, and now they don't even bother with that.

    Anybody out there know where I can get help please? Anybody else have the same and want to start a class action?
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  • GingerTim
    GingerTim Posts: 1,913
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    Because their rates were the best on THIS website(haha) and I thought it was a genuine mistake the first time, so I signed with them again. Once I was hooked in and they started with the over estimated bills it spiraled and I could never get out from under it. Even when I realized what was happening I still could not believe they could get away with it, and I kept calling and chatting with them to try to resolve. They sometimes promised to send corrected bills but never followed through, and now they don't even bother with that.

    Anybody out there know where I can get help please? Anybody else have the same and want to start a class action?
    I've requested this be moved to the energy board, you are likely to get more advice there.

    There is no such thing as a class action in English law.
  • Sorry to hear you have such a fight on your hands OP. 

    One thing for clarity please - it appears that you had the same meter reading in both May and September 2021 - is this correct? (Possible if we are talking about gas - there would then just have been the SC to pay. My experience is that suppliers do get quite twitchy about meter readings either not moving at all from month to month, or, worse, moving far less than they expect. 
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  • cannugec5
    cannugec5 Posts: 405
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    SP have re-listed the dates going forward, then backward and charged for the difference in usage going forwards backward and forward again. 

           May 2021 63010 real reading
           Jul  2021 63477 est....billed  as if 3477-3010 = 467 gas units billed
           Sep 2021 63010 real...billed as if 3010-3477 = 467 gas units billed
           Oct 2021 64149 real... billed as if 3010-4149 = 1,139 gas units billed     
    The same for electricity. 


    6. All metre records, including a SAR request, show readings that jump forward and back again.



    I am 62yo. have lived in 3 different countries, have always paid my bills and they have always been clear. All countries' energy companies manage to bill me correctly. Any company, any government service I have worked with would have been severely prosecuted for what Scottish Power is able to do here.
    With respect, you might like to re- examine your figures here. Are you using the “-“ signs to represent the word “to” or as a minus sign? 
    There is a discrepancy between the three calculations. 

    Can you determine all the actual meter ( not metre) reads and work out your actual usage? 
    Can you calculate all the successful payments made during that same period? 
    What are you seeing as the overall discrepancy? You say it is not the £1,200 being claimed but is there some/ any outstanding balance? 

    Readings often appear to ‘jump’ back and forth as estimates are added in that are inaccurate. That is not a failing as long as it reverts to an actual read when available, and adjustments are made. 

    You imply that because you are well travelled and that previous bills were clear to you that this cannot possibly be an issue of you not understanding the billing. I’m not so sure.. 

    You haven’t articulated well, to me, what the actual billing issue is. I therefore assume that SP, the ombudsman, CAB, MacMillan and your neighbour are all having similar difficulties in getting to the bottom of the matter. 
  • Thank you for your messages... they are helpful
    For clarity- These records are Scottish Power's own records so if they are twitchy then they are twitchy about their own records. My records are screenshots.
    I had to simplify the example I made, so the first and last real readings were the same, as you pointed out. Sometimes they were the same, sometimes higher. This actually happened multiple times. Sometimes it was the former and sometimes the latter.

    I had a SAR (subject access request) for their readings and they also go back and forth, when estimated readings were involved.
    Indeed there is a discrepancy. That is the problem.
    No, they did not make an adjustment. They billed for the est. and the actual of the same usage.
    I do wish I could calculate my own bill, I do have the screenshots of my readings. Indeed I do not have full confidence in my ability to understand how to do this over the course of the 5 years that this occured, multiple times. I queried Scottish Power, at the time, I waited for them to adjust it, they ignored it. 
    Indeed I do not understand the complexity of this billing, as, never in my life has a bill for a utility been complicated. (I was billed for what I used, I paid for what I used.)

    Any recommendations welcomed.

    Catcha wave and you're sittin on topofa world
  • EssexHebridean
    EssexHebridean Posts: 20,798
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    edited 21 October 2023 at 3:23PM
    My point on the “twitchy” reference was that sometimes when a supplier is told that a meter either hasn’t changed, or hasn’t changed much within a billing period they doubt the veracity of the readings being given, even perhaps because they simply suspect an error. This can lead to estimates being created rather than actual readings being used. 

    Indeed - some years ago we applied to move supplier shortly before going on holiday.  On that same day I also provided the monthly meter readings to our current supplier as I knew we would be away over the end of the month. I recall saying to my OH that I just bet it would mean that they would demand the readings while we were away - in fact and by chance it was the day we returned. When the supplier realised that the reading I’d given previously for the gas was precisely the same as the one I gave for the final reading, they decided that they were instead going to give our new supplier an (incorrect) estimated reading as they refused to believe that there had been no change in the readings. It got resolved eventually by means of photographs and phone calls, but it was a fair bit of faffing about. Back then, it was apparent that the supplier thought we were trying to manipulate things in our favour - these days, with smart meters being prevalent, I suspect they might be less inclined to jump to false conclusions. 
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  • ArbitraryRandom
    ArbitraryRandom Posts: 2,332
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    edited 21 October 2023 at 6:49PM
    I do wish I could calculate my own bill, I do have the screenshots of my readings. 

    If you have your readings and know the tariffs you were on (the rates would be quoted in your bills from the time) then you can - to at least a reasonable degree of accuracy to sense check the bills you are being provided. 

    Electricity meters measure in kWh - so its a simple calculation to times the usage between your readings by the rate you were paying, then add the standing charge and 5% vat to the total. 

    Gas measures in either cubic metres or feet (your meter will say on the front which it is). For m3, times the usage by 11, for ft3 times by 32 - that gives you roughly the kWh usage (very roughly). Then times by your unit rate, add the standing charge, and add 5% vat to the total. 

    Finally, deduct any credit (such as the £400 payments last winter) and any payments you made. 

    Over an extended period of different unit rates, I'd suggest a simple excel sheet would let you see it all. 
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  • I do wish I could calculate my own bill, I do have the screenshots of my readings. 

    If you have your readings and know the tariffs you were on (the rates would be quoted in your bills from the time) then you can - to at least a reasonable degree of accuracy to sense check the bills you are being provided. 

    Electricity meters measure in kWh - so its a simple calculation to times the usage between your readings by the rate you were paying, then add the standing charge and 5% vat to the total. 

    Gas measures in either cubic metres or feet (your meter will say on the front which it is). For m3, times the usage by 11, for ft3 times by 32 - that gives you roughly the kWh usage (very roughly). Then times by your unit rate, add the standing charge, and add 5% vat to the total. 

    Finally, deduct any credit (such as the £400 payments last winter) and any payments you made. 

    Over an extended period of different unit rates, I'd suggest a simple excel sheet would let you see it all. 

    Why aren't you my ombudsman!!! Gosh this is the sensible kind of help I thought they were for !!!!  I do not have the understanding nor confidence needed to do this, even though overall it is the easiest way to solve it and the most logical, and obvious. But none of the helpline people do it!  I have thought of paying some sort of accountant to do it. It gauls me to be doing SP work for them, and paying for it.

    I am still trudging on-- Not sure whether to make a new complaint about SP to the ombudsman or, to make a complaint about the ombudsman - but I gather that is to the same ombudsman so I am not sure if that does anything except make an enemy.

    Still asking for help here!!!
    Catcha wave and you're sittin on topofa world
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