90-year-old Grandad hit with £2k energy bill as dodgy meter forces him to turn off heating

Ninety-year-old Michael Hanley from Port Glasgow endured a two-and half-year battle to replace his faulty electricity meter. Mr Hanley’s daughter, Maria Houston, 57, was made aware of a problem in the summer of 2019 when she noticed the meter was not recording data after which she notified Scottish Power.

Six separate appointments were made with the company to replace the meter, but no engineer turned up on any occasion, leaving Mr Hanley freezing in his own home.

A new meter was eventually installed earlier this year after the family of Mr Hanley brought the case to the Energy Ombudsman last year.

Despite making regular payments, the issues did not cease with the new meter as Michael was slapped with a charge of over £2,000.

Maria spoke of the ordeal saying that her father decided to stay at home with the heating off throughout the winter last year because he was worried about adding to the ever-increasing bill.

Mr Hanley was then bombarded with phone calls from the energy company about making the payment, despite his daughter being the main contact on the issue due to the father’s ailing health.

Maria said: “It’s left my dad in such a state over it. He’s really upset, especially with his dementia. 

“I would say this whole thing has actually made his health deteriorate.”

Ms Houston spoke of the poor customer service she received from Scottish Power saying: “I was constantly calling Scottish Power. 

“One girl told me she couldn’t understand my accent and put the phone down on me.

“Others promised to call back but I’m still waiting.”

She continued: “I was then given a complaints adviser who I told not to call my dad because of his dementia.

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“My name is on the account as well so I told them they should contact me.

“But my dad kept getting phone calls telling him his account was in arrears and he had to pay up.”

After a working meter was eventually installed, the family were horrified to see that the incurred debt was still on record, and they were “told the direct debit would be £250 a month because there was an outstanding balance of more than £2,000.”

Maria questioned how the company could have evaluated the cost as no recordings were made and they never got back to her.

Scottish power investigated the case last week and has cleared the debt and goodwill payments for the installation appointments.

Maria concluded: “This whole thing has been a total nightmare. How many other people are in the same situation as my dad who don’t have somebody to fight for them?”

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Scottish Power told the Daily Record: “We’re very sorry for the billing and customer service issues experienced by Mr Hanley and his family over the last couple of years, which stem from a faulty meter that was in place between April 2019 and December 2021.

“We’ve also been working to recalculate the billing to ensure that Mr Hanley is not charged for an energy usage during the April 2019 – December 2021 period when we did not have accurate meter reading.

“This has resulted in a credit balance of more than £1,500, which will be refunded to Mr Hanley.

“We appreciate this has taken much longer to resolve than anyone would have liked and apologise for the distress and inconvenience caused.”

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