ASK TONY: I was hit with a £900 bill from E.ON’s not-so smart meter

I changed to energy supplier E.ON in August 2019 and took up its offer of a smart meter. I think it installed the dumbest one they had in stock.

From the word go, the ‘in house display’ has not worked. The engineer said it would take a few weeks to sort itself out. I rang several times over many weeks and kept being told it would sort itself out.

In March I was promised a call from the complaints department but it never came. I have chased it up on numerous occasions.

Meter misery: A reader was handed a £900 energy bill after E.on claimed her faulty smart meter would sort itself out

Meter misery: A reader was handed a £900 energy bill after E.on claimed her faulty smart meter would sort itself out

Meter misery: A reader was handed a £900 energy bill after E.on claimed her faulty smart meter would sort itself out

My monthly payments dropped from £123.67 to £17 in March. I rang again, knowing this would not cover usage. I was told I was more than £300 in credit, which I knew could not be right as it was estimating the bill.

When I supplied actual readings, my online bill was more than £900.

L. O., by email.

You began complaining to E.on last November but were given the moronic response that your daft meter would sort itself out!

For a ‘can’t be bothered’ customer service response, this is up there with the best. When your complaint dragged on, E.on rolled out the Covid excuse of having ‘limited resources’. (I am sick to the back teeth of energy companies using Covid-19 as an excuse for poor service. Phone, internet and email can all be handled by people working from home.)

Now, I would love to tell you precisely what happened but, although I have received a general statement from E.on, two batches of follow-up questions I sent have not received a response.

However, you tell me after my intervention engineers arrived to replace your smart meter. But the new one also did not work, so they installed an old-style one.

In the meantime, you paid £700 in two instalments.

E.ON could not get a reading from your original smart meter so you were given an estimated reading, which resulted in a £204 rebate. A graph you sent me suggests your use in spring rocketed while we were basking in two months of sunshine and warmth.

Your direct debit was then moved back to £125, a better reflection of your actual usage.

E.on says: ‘A communication issue affecting the meter and her in-home display meant we were unable to collect accurate readings on her energy usage. Unfortunately this led to us basing her bills on estimated use.’ 

E.on failed to offer compensation. When your contract comes up for renewal, you know what to do.

You have YOUR say 

Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some about our report on life insurers forcing terminally ill policyholders to prove that they have less than 12 months to live. 

My friend’s wife was given 18 to 24 months to live with treatment and nine months without it. The insurer refused to pay out on her life cover, so she told them she would be having the treatment and going to the Press. The firm paid out.

N. L., by email.

My husband had motor neurone disease and died within six months of diagnosis. 

We tried to get a major insurer to pay out on our life cover, but it rejected the claim. It told us it would reconsider if we sent a letter from his consultant.

K. K., Bury.

Life insurance should be just that. It is unfair to mislead the policyholder into thinking they have security, only to pull the rug from under their feet at a difficult time. 

Laws are needed to protect policyholders in these circumstances.

R. P., Bristol.

I work in the industry and know it’s very rare for the Financial Ombudsman to rule in a policyholder’s favour with these kind of cases. 

Always read your documents and make sure you have a full understanding of what you’re covered for.

J. D., Southampton.

Some insurers exploit how successful doctors have become at treating cancer. 

It means you can be diagnosed as terminally ill, but still be alive five years later. If you need to renew your policy, no firm will cover you.

E. S., by email.

About 21 years ago my uncle was told he had terminal bowel cancer. He had a life policy and received his payout a week before he died. 

The simple option is to not bother with life insurance and save instead. Insurers will always try to wriggle out of paying.

N. M., Manchester.

In December last year I booked a cruise to the Norwegian fjords and took out travel insurance with Staysure. 

I had a colonoscopy on February 14 after a screening test and was told that I had a tumour. On March 19 I had surgery to remove a section of my bowel.

At the end of March, before the final payment was due, I cancelled the cruise because my medical future was uncertain. 

I put a claim into Staysure for my £920 deposit. It is refusing on grounds that I wasn’t covered for cancellations caused by Covid.

P. W., Whitstable, Kent.

I’m afraid your claim got caught up in the pandemic and a mistake was made. When I pointed out your problem, Staysure immediately refunded the full £920 including the £65 excess. It has also given you £100 as a goodwill gesture.

A Staysure spokesman explains: ‘We pride ourselves on doing things the right way. Since the pandemic, we have seen unprecedented volumes of customer queries and claims. 

‘We have worked extremely hard to ensure the disruption to our customers is minimal but recognise Mr W. has been impacted. We are confident that this was a symptom of the crisis and not a reflection of our processes.’

Straight to the point 

A chimney leak at my elderly parents’ house resulted in water damage to their living room. 

I have been trying to sort their £1,250 claim with insurer Covea Insurance since July 9, but staff are being unhelpful and obstructive.

J.C., by email.

Covea Insurance says it aims to deliver high service standards but occasionally mistakes are made. 

which it regrets is what happened here. It has now settled your parents’ claim and offered £150 compensation.

*** 

I want to buy a new home using savings to avoid being in a chain, then sell my present home soon after. 

There could be a short period when I own two properties. Would I have to pay capital gains tax (CGT) when selling my current home?

T. B., Essex.

You shouldn’t have to pay CGT if you sell your current home within two years of buying your new one, according to AJ Bell. 

You will have to pay the additional 3 per cent stamp duty on your new home, but you can reclaim this if you sell your existing home within three years.

*** 

Virgin Mobile keeps texting to say a new Sim card is on the way. But it has not arrived and Virgin says it will cut me off if I don’t replace my existing one. I can’t get through on the phone.

A. P., Surrey.

The Sim card was mistakenly sent to your old house. A new one has been sent to your current address. 

It adds that some call centres were closed during lockdown but customers would have got through eventually.

*** 

I paid for a £1,460 Bertazzoni dual-fuel cooker in June. The retailer, AO, initially failed to deliver it on the day it promised and then, after arranging an alternative date, did not send an engineer to install it.

L.C., by email.

AO has apologised and refunded the cost of the engineer. It has arranged an alternative solution to connect your cooker.

My sister-in-law has severe dementia and is in residential care. Post Office Money wrote to her on January 10 to say her £10,240 loyalty bond paying 1.35 per cent matured in 20 days. 

There were reinvestment options of 1.35 per cent, 1.4 per cent or 1.47 per cent.

We wrote to say we had applied to the Court of Protection to take over her affairs and asked Post Office Money to roll her money over. 

But it could not. On February 18 we sent the Court of Protection Order and proof of our identities. But it would not accept our authority to act on behalf of my sister-in-law.

Her £10,240 is now in a Post Office account paying only 0.01 per cent interest. We have tried, unsuccessfully, to close this. 

After further letters and phone calls, it agreed to accept copies of our passports, driving licences and council tax bills, subject to their being authorised by our local postmistress. This cost more than £30. We sent the documents on May 29.

We have now been told the Post Office has a backlog and has no idea when it will be able to deal with this matter. 

To add insult to injury, it sent a letter, dated May 23, saying my sister-in-law’s signature was required as ours do not match its records.

K and S. J., Norwich, Norfolk.

The Post Office has worked with its banking provider, the Bank of Ireland, and you have received an apology for the poor service. 

The account has been closed and the funds transferred to the account you requested. You will also receive £250 in compensation.

You tell me that after covering the bond interest and costs there should be about £150 surplus.

Your generous decision is to give £100 of this to the care home to provide extras for residents and £50 to the Salvation Army in Norwich to help homeless people.

  • We love hearing from our loyal readers, so ask that during this challenging time you write to us by email where possible, as we will not pick up letters sent to our postal address as regularly as usual. You can write to: asktony@ dailymail.co.uk or, if you prefer, Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 D erry Street, London W8 5TT — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.

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