Energywatch

February 26, 2004 ,

HOW would you feel if you woke up to find someone had changed your car to another model without your permission? You’d probably be outraged.

A similar thing could happen to you regarding your gas and electricity supplier.

I am sponsoring a bill in Parliament introduced by my Scottish colleague David Cairns.
It would provide automatic compensation for victims of an “erroneous transfer”.

This occurs when a consumer finds their gas or electric supplier has changed without their permission.

It can happen through fraudulent selling.
Some salespeople have tricked people into signing to change energy supplier, or even forged signatures.

Your supplier can be changed even after a conversation on the phone with a salesperson, and without a signature being obtained.

Sometimes erroneous transfers happen through error by the energy company, but it can be difficult and costly for the consumer to change back.

There is a useful organisation based in Cardiff called Energywatch, which provides free help, and might even get you some compensation.

When I visited Energywatch’s offices recently, they told me how their efforts to help consumers are not always welcome.

One campaign they ran was to get energy companies to pay back consumers promptly when “pre-pay” meters overcharge.

But the old tradition of using the gas meter as a sort of piggy bank still survives particularly in Welsh homes, even with modern meters.

Many people in Wales, they told me, prefer the convenience of saving for Christmas or holidays in pre-pay meters, than going to the bank or Credit Union.

No interest is paid when the money is claimed back, but customers don’t want the money they are owed until they are ready to spend it.

If you need help from Energywatch call 08459 06 07 08.