Teresa Rabone was elated when she moved into her brand new Hayling Island housing association home.
But joy turned to despair when she became locked in a 16-month ScottishPower billing fiasco.
The 50-year-old barmaid told Streetwise her ordeal was a crazy Alice in Wonderland situation which had her pulling her hair out and in tears with worry and frustration.
Teresa explained that, because of her medical problems, in February, 2016 she was rehomed in an Aster Communities Housing Association property.
When she arrived, one of her first tasks was to read through a housing association and ScottishPower welcome pack.
Subsequently Aster was required to inform the energy giant of her tenancy and Teresa sent off the opening meter readings for gas and electricity, selecting a dual fuel deal as her preferred tariff and billing option.
A few months later, a concerned Teresa desperately tried to find out why she wasn’t receiving any gas and electricity bills.
She phoned ScottishPower’s customer services several times to ask what was going on.
They kept her on the line for anything up to an hour and she ended up being pushed from pillar to post and none the wiser.
Then a couple of weeks further down the line she was dumbfounded when she started getting bills from the energy giant for all the Astor Communities properties on her estate.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, 50 to 60 bills a week started cascading through her letterbox.
Unbelievably they were for the housing association’s properties nationwide, sparking six months of unrelenting misery and hassle as she tried in vain to get the muddle sorted.
A completely flabbergasted Teresa said: ‘From then on I ended up phoning ScottishPower every two or three weeks and was still getting passed around from one operative to another.
‘I spent hours redirecting all the post, but still the bills kept coming.
‘Apparently Astor hadn’t sent its part of the tenancy paperwork off, but the firm linked my name with them so that’s why I was getting all the housing association’s stuff.
‘In one of my conversations with the customer services team, I was told I had an £8,000 bill outstanding and they couldn’t do anything with my own bill because I had everyone else’s account on it. Everybody’s Astor bills from everywhere were being sent to my house.
‘They just couldn’t work out I wasn’t the housing association, but eventually I got them to re-register me to wipe off all the other people’s accounts. But that took them a month-and-a-half to get sorted.’
But if Teresa thought that was the end of her bizarre billing experience, she had another think coming. Things were set to get a whole lot worse.
Battle lines were redrawn when her first individual bill arrived with the name spelt incorrectly.
Then, to her exasperation, yet another correctly-spelt bill arrived calculated on the firm’s standard tariff instead of the duel fuel deal she’d originally specified.
Muddle turned rapidly to mayhem when shortly afterwards she received a gas payment demand for £480 followed by a threatening debt collector’s letter, but no electricity bill.
Teresa called the company time and again to sort out this fiasco. Each time she was sent on a wild goose chase trying to pin down someone who was remotely interested in helping her.
Months were slipping by and a despondent Teresa was left at the end of her tether.
Not knowing which way to turn, Teresa was told about Streetwise by a regular reader of The News who pointed her in our direction.
We put her shocking story of incompetence and mismanagement to ScottishPower and within 48 hours representatives had responded positively and apologised profusely for the months of frustration and distress they had caused her.
A contrite spokesperson said: ‘We sincerely apologise to Ms Rabone for the problems she experienced when trying to resolve this issue and for the delay in setting up the account.
‘A dual-fuel account has now been set up and backdated on the cheapest tariff, leaving a balance of £589.16 debit, saving approximately £150.
‘We have issued a goodwill payment of £150 by way of an apology, reducing the balance to £439.16.
‘A monthly direct debit payment of £37 per month has been agreed for ongoing usage and the outstanding balance is to be repaid over a period of 36 months.’
Although Teresa was still angry, she was both impressed and delighted that, following our intervention, the seemingly endless billing saga had finally been resolved.
She said: ‘To be mistaken for a whole housing association when living on a small estate in a one-bedroom house was absolutely crazy.
‘I just couldn’t see any way they were going to sort it out. They can never make up for the fact I’ve been treated so appallingly.
‘I’d like to thank you very much for your help and support.
‘It’s a great weight off my mind knowing that it’s finally been sorted out.’