To most of us the sight of regular domestic bills dropping through our letterbox doesn’t exactly fill us with joy.
But reader Pat Bagley, got in touch after she had an unusual but very real problem with her energy bills – she just wasn’t getting any.
The 68-year-old retired nurse has to keep a tight rein on her domestic expenses since her husband passed away almost 18 months ago.
Pat said: ‘He managed all the money and made sure all the bills were paid on time, so I had to learn fast how to watch the pennies when he died shortly after our 40th wedding anniversary.
‘My daughter urged me to shop around for the cheapest energy deals so last June she helped me switch from Southern Electric to nPower. We worked out that by switching I could save almost £350 a year.’
But when the following September the first bill didn’t arrive at her Horndean home, she began to get concerned.
She phoned nPower in early October, and was told not to worry. The firm’s billing systems were being updated and she’d receive it shortly.
When the bill didn’t appear four weeks later, she rang again.
After repeating her concerns to a customer care operative, Pat was then told the delay was all down to estimated meter readings.
She thought it rather strange because they’d already been manually read at the time of the switchover, but accepted a reassurance that a bill would be on her doormat within 10 days.
More frantic calls just before Christmas resulted in a categorical promise that a bill would be sent as soon as possible, within a week at the latest, but when that promise went the same way as the others Pat decided she couldn’t stand it any longer.
After contacting the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, she was satisfied their involvement would bring an end to the bill-less nightmare.
That resulted in an assurance by nPower in January, that despite not having had a single bill from them for seven months they’d received her monthly direct debit payments and there would be no billing problems in the future.
But by the time February arrived there was still no bill, so sick with worry she phoned them again once more to complain.
This time the promise of a bill within seven days was repeated, but she was not surprised when it didn’t turn up.
It was now March so Pat decided she have one more go before telling nPower where to get off with their no show billing.
Her anger and frustration obviously struck a chord with nPower’s customer services team, who said they’d get a supervisor to call her back and get the problem fixed. When the call never came she decided it was high time to contact Streetwise to see if we could put an end to her mysterious no bill misery.
We put it to nPower that Pat had been waiting for her first electricity bill for more than 10 months, and despite all her efforts no-one at the utility had taken ownership of the problem but had just fobbed her off with an unacceptable catalogue of excuses and left her in the dark.
A nPower spokesperson said: ‘We wish to express our regret to Mrs Bagley for the distress and inconvenience it has caused.
‘Unfortunately due to a technical problem we were unable to generate an electricity bill for her.
‘That has now been resolved but in the meantime in order to spare her any further anxiety we’ve calculated her bill based on the latest readings and refunded her £271.20.
‘We’ve also offered her a further £50 as a gesture of goodwill which we hope will go some way to apologise for the inconvenience caused.’
A relieved Pat said: ‘I’m so grateful for your help. Thanks to Streetwise I’ve received the refund and the £50 for the upset this caused me.
‘It’s good to know that when people end up banging their heads against a brick wall we can call on you to get the problem sorted.’