In November 2016, a gentleman in his 90s moved in next door. He recently asked me to look at his bank statements because he had been paying two monthly amounts to Scottish Power since December 2016.
On checking my own statements, I found I had no payments to the firm — it seems he had been paying both our bills for nine months.
Scottish Power was very apologetic and offered to credit me with £50, but it insisted my neighbour would have to apply for a refund separately.
Then I was advised that my account had been closed and my neighbour received a further bill for £459, which was sent to my address.
I sent a letter to the chief executive, which was signed for on October 13, but I have still not had a reply.
E. C., Powys.
Scottish Power initially insisted the neighbour would have to apply for a refund separately
What a mess! Why did Scottish Power suggest that the elderly man apply for compensation instead of just admitting to the mistake and coughing up?
Once the press office became involved, the situation was eventually resolved, but even then, it needed some perseverance on your part to ensure your neighbour got his full dues.
Scottish Power admits that your neighbour’s account was wrongly set up, resulting in him being charged for your energy.
He made ten payments of £52.59 towards your bills, but there was some confusion when this money was eventually returned, because two refunds of £262.95 were made. Payment of the £459 bill you mention was not taken.
In addition, Scottish Power has offered to reduce your bill by 50 per cent and will make a £200 goodwill payment to your neighbour.
Scottish Power apologises sincerely for the problems that you and your neighbour faced and assures me both accounts have been corrected. It says it did log your complaint to the chief executive on October 24 and confirmed an investigation was in progress.
That said, it took several more weeks and some firm nudges from me before a solution was reached and the compensation to your neighbour was increased to a reasonable level.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some from our report about how bailed-out RBS/NatWest is shutting one in four of its branches this year, leaving 24 towns and villages without a single bank…
Hornsea in East Yorkshire is losing both its banks, NatWest and Lloyds, in June, so we will have to travel 15 miles to get to a branch. Apparently, neither knew the other was proposing to close.
On top of this, our bus service is hourly and is constantly under threat.
N. W., E. Yorks.
There was always a huge queue in my local branch, until it closed without warning. A few weeks ago, NatWest failed to order me a replacement bank card, so I was left without access to cash for two weeks with no local branch.
S. W., Manchester.
Instead of closing the last bank in town, why not have a shared scheme where all the main banks share the costs of running one branch? Then the public can do their transactions for any bank in the same building.
R. T., Devon.
Most everyday banking can be done in a Post Office, which has far longer opening hours, particularly in the back of beyond. Would residents prefer to lose their Post Office, but keep their bank?
S. P., Dartmouth, Devon.
I have never understood why banks can’t all share one building in smaller towns, with a desk for each bank inside.
F. M., Oxon.
How on earth could NatWest be expected to remain open with so little footfall? It is a business, after all.
R. F., Lincoln.
I support all those who are trying to keep their banks open, but none of my children use banks and they are typical of that generation. Perhaps we need to persuade them to make use of surviving branches.
O. S., Powys.
My grandson’s motorbike was stolen from inside the grounds of his workplace. He used it only for commuting and it was locked up in a secure place with CCTV.
My grandson made a claim to his insurer, Axa, and was asked to send over all his paperwork, including registration documents and MOT certificate.
He was then accused of falsifying insurance documents.
After several weeks, his papers have not been returned and he is still paying £58.65 a month.
B. H., by email.
This is a most peculiar case. I have spent several months to-ing and fro-ing and still feel there is something amiss.
Axa has now paid your son’s claim, but you are convinced that it shifted ground only because you told it of my involvement — and so am I. The firm insists your grandson was not covered for commuting, so has discontinued the insurance and asked for the policy documents to be returned.
I asked for a copy of the policy document and it clearly says that commuting is excluded. So, what is going on?
Is it possible that your grandson misunderstood the documents — or is being economical with the truth? If not, there is another possibility. He apparently bought the insurance via a broker/aggregator. Could the information he provided or the details of the policy have been altered along the way, either by mistake or as a deliberate act of fraud?
The more I consider the case, the more I become concerned at this possibility. If I were in your grandson’s shoes, I’d take the case to the Financial Ombudsman to get to the bottom of it.
He could also make a data access request under the Data Protection Act, demanding that the aggregator and Axa share all data they hold on him.
TalkTalk told a customer she could not revert to her old contract just 24 hours after offering a new deal
My 91-year-old mother rarely uses her TalkTalk broadband and phone, but it is her lifeline.
Recently, she swapped to a £19.95-per-month package online and was told there was a 20-day cooling-off period. She became aware that it was a 24-month contract only at the end of the webchat, when terms and conditions popped up.
After some reflection, and due to not being in good health, she decided to cancel the next day, but was told her old package was no longer available. She has also lost her international boost, so now can’t talk to her sister in the U.S.
I wrote to complain to TalkTalk, and it responded by asking me to provide power of attorney documents, which I did, but neither my mother nor I have heard from it since.
S. F., by email.
So, here’s a new question we must ask before accepting a new contract: ‘If I wish to cancel within the cooling-off period, can I revert to my existing contract?’
It is completely unacceptable to turn around 24 hours after offering a new deal and say a customer cannot revert to their old one.
TalkTalk admits it should not have asked for power of attorney when you made contact. Instead, it just needed your mother to confirm security information.
Your mother has now been offered a 12-month contract for £19.95 per month with unlimited UK calls for an extra £5 monthly and a free international call boost. She can also cancel her contract without penalty at any time.
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
I read in Money Mail last week that if you bank with Lloyds, you can pay in cheques by taking a picture of them on your mobile phone. But when I looked for this option in its mobile banking app, I couldn’t find it.
S. B., Leeds.
Lloyds Banking Group, which also owns Halifax and Bank of Scotland, says it gave us the wrong information. It is not yet able to do this, but is hoping to by early this year.
I bought four tickets to a show at the Royal Albert Hall online from Viagogo. I paid £267 for an unrestricted view, but when the tickets arrived, they said ‘restricted view’. The firm said it would investigate, but I still don’t have the correct tickets or a refund.
P. W., Surrey.
Viagogo allows people to resell their tickets to plays, concerts and events. In this case, it seems the seller was not able to provide the tickets you originally ordered, so Viagogo has agreed to refund your money.
In July, I noticed that three payments I didn’t recognise had been made from my bank account. HSBC refunded me the £180, but later sent a letter saying the transactions appeared to be correct, so my account would be re-debited. I have been back and forth with HSBC, but to no avail.
E. H., London.
HSBC says it will not take the money back from your account. It claims the retailer that received the money had provided the bank with documents that appeared to include your correct name and billing address.
This meant you needed to complete some extra paperwork to confirm the transactions were fraudulent.
When I bought a bathroom suite from Homebase in March 2016, I was assured it had a ten-year guarantee. Yet when the soft-close toilet seat stopped working last August, I was told I wasn’t covered because it was an accessory. Apparently, these are protected only for 12 months.
Homebase agreed to fit a new one as a gesture of goodwill, but I’m still waiting for an appointment.
M. P., Bristol.
Homebase apologises for the delay. It has now scheduled a time to fit a new toilet seat as promised.