Customer hit with £19,000 electricity bill – despite having a pre-payment meter

A customer was hit with a £19,500 electricity bill despite being on a prepayment meter.

David Johnston, 50, had been an E.ON customer for 10 years and had always paid for his power up front.

He got the shock of his life when his meter started consuming way more money than usual and he got in touch with the gas and electricity supplier before receiving a huge bill from the company.

Mr Johnston told the Daily Record's The Judge column: “I couldn’t understand why the meter was eating my money. I paid in £130 over three days.

“The house is ex-council and an end terrace with storage heaters and a coal fire. I knew something was wrong.”

When he called E.ON, he was told he had an outstanding bill of £11,856.06.

It later rose to £19,470.36 and the meter was collecting the debt.

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David, who is married to Fiona, 52, said: “I told E.ON I was a pay-as-you-go customer so couldn’t possibly owe any money.”

E.ON insisted the storage heaters had not been connected to the meter.

Mr Johnston added: “I was astounded. Turns out we have a complex four reading meter.

“But we’ve had the same set-up since we moved in 20 years ago and never had a problem, it seems, until we switched supplier to E.ON.

“E.ON told me to check my online account. I had no idea I even had one. There was no reason for me to ever check it.

“But when I finally logged in, it made for grim reading.”

On November 8, E.ON told him not to worry as it would look at writing off the bill.

The bill, however, continued to rise as Mr Johnston saw the balance go up swiftly.

David, a hotel manager, of Newtonmore,  Highland, said: “We turned off all the storage heaters and I bought a couple of oil-fired radiators. We also used the coal fire to get us by.”

The online account increased by £8054.30 overnight on January 6, bringing the total to £19,470.86.

David and Fiona, a nursery teacher, kept calling E.ON and using web chat to try to sort things out.

He said: “Fiona was very worried – how could we possibly have used all this electricity and how were we going to pay for it? It didn’t bear thinking about.

“We needed a clear explanation and also asked for a smart meter to be installed.

“An appointment was made and I took time off work but no one turned up. We are at our wits’ end, stressed at a bill that’s not our fault.

“We’ve no heating on and there’s no sign of this new meter. Can you help?”

E.ON said the debt had been written off, bringing David's account balance to zero.

A spokesman said: “We are sorry for this error in Mr Johnston’s balance, which has been corrected.

“We have explained to Mr Johnston that there is no debt owing and that he just needs to continue paying for the energy he uses through his prepayment meter.”

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