Energy Firms—Including E.ON—Chasing Homeowners for Strangers’ Debts

There are many bizarre issues that customers face regarding their energy supply today, and high up on that list is paying debts that they do not owe.


Several customers have recounted stories of bad experiences, in which they would be hounded by suppliers for numerous bills they allegedly owed, despite being diligent about their payments. Below you’ll find details on some of these bad billing cases, involving customers of E.ON and British Gas.


E.ON’s blunder


A customer who moved into a rented property signed up to Utility Warehouse for their gas and electricity supply.  After a month at their new home they started receiving collection notices from E.ON, who insisted the customer owed them money.


The confused customer sent evidence that they had previously arranged for their gas and electric supply to be provided by a different company, but E.ON kept contacting them and sending numerous bills trying to collect their ‘debt’.


They were told that as long as their debt remains on record, E.ON will keep reaching out to the customer.


After several phone calls and arguments, E.ON later stated that while the firm is not the gas supplier, the customer still has electricity charges to pay – along with fees for the debt collection agency.

The whole ordeal came to a head when the customer was threatened with additional charges, visits from bailiffs, and having their utility supply disconeected.


The situation left the customer stressed, and worried about how this billing dispute with E.ON might impact their plans to purchase a home. As a single parent, the customer was extremely concerned about having a bad mark such as this on their otherwise clean credit history.


After months of being accused of owing the company money, E.ON finally gave the customer a real answer to their concerns – saying that the ‘debt’ incident was because of a system failure during the supplier switching process, which happened before the customer occupied the property.  As a result, this customer’s energy supply continued to show up in E.ON’s system even after the customer moved into the house and a new supplier has been chosen.


The customer was sent £110 in compensation, and a formal apology by E.ON. The company’s records have also been updated.


Mix-up with British Gas


A customer from British Gas – another ‘Big Six’ energy supplier – had a similar dilemma after recieving a demand letter saying they had to pay a debt that they didn’t owe.


The customer, who moved to Hove in December, settled the final bill with British Gas before switching over to Octopus Energy’s services.


They later received a letter from British Gas saying that they owed money for their gas and electricity consumption.   What added to the customer’s concern was that in this letter the customer’s surname was misspelled, and the address indicated Glasgow instead of Hove.

The customer told British Gas that they had never once even been to Glasgow, with a representative from British Gas later stating that the error was due to a computer system failure. As a result, the firm cancelled the account. Despite the account being cancelled and a British Gas representative saying that the original letter was sent in error, further letters about the same energy bill kept arriving. The last straw for this customer was receiving an alarming ‘final demand’ regarding the issue.


British Gas’ customer service staff told the customer that the letter was a mistake, and advised them to ignore it.  The customer followed this advice, but later received another demand letter – this time from a debt collections agency.


The upset customer tried to rectify the situation, even providing a copy of their passport to correct the letters’ inconsistent records of their date of birth. By this point, 4 stressful months had passed since their first complaint, and no real resolution from British Gas had been provided.


Even after numerous attempts to put a stop to what was happening, the debt and demand letters kept coming.  The debt recovery firm insisted that British Gas confirmed that money was owed by the customer, hence their becoming involved to chase after the ‘debt’.


The debt collection agent asked for further proof from the customer that they were not living in Glasgow, and the customer – who was desperately trying to resolve the issue quickly – sent their council tax bills as proof.


The customer called the situation a nightmare, that has given them anxiety and frustration for months.


British Gas later apologised for the internal error that wrongly associated the customer with a debt that was never theirs, but did not offer any other form of compensation for their mistake, nor the months of stress that it caused this customer.