EDF customers too scared to put the heating on as they're chased for huge sums – including £39k bill – in 'system error' | The Sun
EDF customers have told how they're too scared to put on the heating as they're being chased for huge bills.
Thousands of worried Brits are seeing more than a 1,000 per cent increase in their charges for electricity and gas.
Celebrities have even been hit – with artist and broadcaster, Sir Grayson Perry revealing that EDF had raised his monthly electric bill from £300 to £39,000.
Meanwhile, former BBC journalist Jon Sopel said he was notified that his bill was increasing from £152 a month to £18,000.
EDF said in a statement that its customers "do not need to worry" and it had not made any changes to how it processed direct debit charges.
However, thousands of customers say they are now terrified of turning on their heating in the run-up to Christmas.
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NHS doctor Lauren Huzzey says she was told in August her electricity and gas bill was going to shoot up in October by 1,016 per cent from £122 to £1,362.
She told MailOnline: "I missed a reading earlier in the year and all of a sudden my bill jumped
"As it turned out, I only owed them £700 in the end.
"I cannot tell you how incredibly stressful all this was.
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"I sat on long calls, just trying to speak to someone.
"In the end, I never actually spoke to a human being, they just 'fixed' it a few weeks later.
"I was trying to work out how I would be able to afford it all.
"I spent days looking at accounts to see how I would afford it, but I couldn't at all."
The firm pointed to an "erroneous meter reading" as a possible explanation for unusual changes in amounts charged, and said such increases were verified through a human check.
Similarly, Grant Tanner's account had shown him to be £1,443.80 in credit before it suddenly told him he was £7,401.89 in debt.
As a result, he was blocked from remortaging his home – before EDF admitted their app was faulty.
He explained: "Eventually after about a year they realised it was a mistake and it was just over £2,000 [that I owed].
"As a sorry they gave me a measly £50 but I could not be bothered to complain anymore.
"However, I'm now just remortgaging and have found I can't get one because they have put a block on my credit report all because of their ridiculous errors which I find completely unacceptable."
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Hundreds more of fuming customers have taken to social media to tell their stories.
One person wrote: "The EDF sending threatening letters with promises of bailiffs entering your home is very efficient.
"When my elderly and recently widowed mother didn’t pay a neighbour’s EDF bill sent in error to her, it’s what they did to her.
"My mother moved a wardrobe in front of her front door to prevent EDF heavies from entering.
"Eventually you sent my mother fifty quid as an apology which must almost cover the cost of phoning EDF to sort it out."
EDF replied, asking him to direct message in order to look into it further.
Another said: "EDF has been chasing me for the last six months for a gas bill of £4220.70 despite the fact that there is no gas supply to the property.
"I've written several emails to say as much but they're not having it and keep threatening me with court proceedings. It's crazy."
How do I challenge my energy bill?
If you pay your energy bill by direct debit, then it is assumed that this monthly amount should be "fair and reasonable".
If you don't think it is, you should complain directly to your supplier in the first instance.
If you're not happy with the outcome you can take it to the independent Energy Ombudsman to dispute, but there are a few steps before you get to that stage.
Your supplier must clearly explain why it's chosen that amount for your direct debit.
If you've got credit on your account, you have every right to get it back – although some experts recommend keeping it there through the summer, so your bills don't go up in the winter when you use more energy.
Your supplier must refund you or explain exactly why not otherwise and the regulator, Ofgem, can fine suppliers if they don't.
To ask for a refund call your supplier or contact them online.
If you are disputing a bill, taking a meter reading is a must.
If it's lower than your estimate, you can ask your provider to lower your monthly direct debit to a more suitable amount.
But beware so you don’t end up in debt later on with a bigger catch-up bill at the end of the year from underpayments racking up.
If you don't have success in negotiating a lower payment then you can put in a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.
Sir Grayson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday: "I just suddenly out of the blue got a whole sheet of about 15 bills which added up to £39,000, and they said they were going to deduct the money by direct debit for all those bills on the same day, which was yesterday.
"I just thought it was so bizarre and I tried on Friday – I spent about three hours at least – to get some sense out of a call centre, but you know, you're talking to a computer really."
Sir Grayson said the bills varied between a few hundred pounds and £6,000 and described the incident as an "interesting fable of the technological age".
He said: "They [EDF] installed a smart meter a few years ago, and I told the man who installed it there's no phone signal here, because this is in my country studio.
"So they never had a record of how much I was using, and then when the bill comes, it's just an estimation by a computer."
A spokesperson for EDF said: "Customers do not need to worry – these are not related to a wider issue with our billing system and we've not made any changes to how we process direct debit changes for customers.
"Unusual changes to direct debit amounts can sometimes occur when there is an erroneous meter reading recorded on the system.
'We have robust interventions in place to ensure that any large increases in customers' direct debits are verified through a human check and in almost all such cases, system errors are rectified and prevented, without customers being impacted."
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