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Scottish Power is receiving a lot of complaints from customers who claim the utility company is holding on to cash they are owed.
Some have contacted the Guardian newspaper’s money section to accuse the energy provider, which serves over 3.5 million homes in the United Kingdom, failures to return credit balances of up to £600 when a mistake with direct debits has resulted in an over-payment. They have also said that Scottish Power is holding on to balances worth over £500 after they have switched to a rival provider. There are also accusations that Scottish Power is leaving customers on hold for an hour.
The industry watch dog Ofgem had sought action against many of the Big Six providers. Following a record level of switching following price hikes last winter, they ordered these companies — which also include Npower, Eon, British Gas, SSE and EDF — to hand back more than £400 million which was being held in bank accounts but owed customers. It is currently investigating whether the policies these Big Six companies have are complaint with the rules.
Problems with Scottish Power’s repayments surfaced last year when The Guardian discovered that customers who were owed money were generally unable to get through to the energy provider’s customer service team. Those who were eventually able to get through to someone were told that Scottish Power was suffering IT problems or had not received the final meter reading from the company they switched to. It meant that refunds could not, apparently, be processed.
One customer, Jenny Craig, spoke about the issues she had when she left Scottish Power to move to Denmark last year. She said:
I sold the house on 4 February and contacted Scottish Power that day to ask them to close the account and return the money – over £400. I gave them all the details, including that of the new owner. However, two days later they took another direct debit of £108, so now they have £513.19
A Scottish Power spokesperson apologised for the company’s failures and said they would be introducing extended opening hours to deal with the volume of unhappy callers. They said:
We apologise to any customer who has found it difficult to get through. With a price increase, followed by a price decrease, and the conclusion of Ofgem’s mis-selling investigation, we have experienced unprecedented call volumes over the winter period. We’re introducing extended opening hours, and have already made a number of improvements to our online services to help customers get information they need.