THE ANNOYING BIT Just over a year ago we moved into a house with a prepayment electricity meter which we wanted to change to a ‘normal’ credit meter.
We also wanted to change to a single supplier to get the best deal. Having done some online research about the best deals we settled on Scottish Power. We arranged to switch accounts, get the meter changed after which we were assured we would be able to benefit from dual fuel discount from the date of the meter switch.
The new electric meter was fitted on 26 August 2014 – we are still waiting for Scottish Power to combine our tariff, despite regular telephone calls. We are basically ‘overpaying’ on our gas bill while not paying for electricity while we wait to combine our bills – this resulted in calls from Scottish Power’s credit control department trying to collect the ‘debt’. Our last estimated electricity bill in April was over £550, and despite me calling with amended meter readings I still haven't received a correct bill, so I have no idea whether the gas overpayment is covering the electricity bill. I finally girded my loins to tackle the situation again this month. I spoke with 'Domestic Credit' and explained the whole situation. The operator started to transfer the account to dual fuel (he said) and then asked me for my bank details.
THE DODGY BIT I explained I had already set up a direct debit and shouldn't need to set up another. He said it was because it was a different account for the dual fuel, so I supplied my sort code and account number. Then he asked for my card number and I declined to give it, this led to a fairly heated exchange where I questioned the validity of Scottish Power having my debit card details, and he tried to convince me that it was company policy to take card details, and that the details couldn't be used erroneously by him or the company. He told me the card and direct debit where the ‘same thing’ and I argued that they were not.
He asked me what I thought could happen, I explained that best case was they could take that £550 ‘debt’ from my account on the card, leaving me short of money for the month even if I did eventually mange to recoup it, which could take months (based on how long it has taken Scottish Power to sort out my bills). Worst case scenario he could be running some sort of scam where he gets access to my address, bank account details date of birth etc and then also has my card details. He refused to see this as an issue, arguing that because he worked for Scottish Power he couldn’t possibly misuse my information. This beggars belief when you consider the number of scams that have been perpetrated by rogue employees of perfectly respectable companies.
Our arguments went round in circles for some time after which I asked to speak to a manager.
I was told (predictably enough) that a manager wasn't available, and that a manager would tell me the same thing. I said I wanted to hear that for myself and in any case I was now at breaking point and wanted to file a complaint about the service I had received over the whole situation and in particular about being asked for my card details when it seemed I was so close to the resolution of the billing problem. He then advised me that I needed to speak to customer services and that they were a higher authority than his manager - I agreed to be put through.
He remained unable to put me through to customer services or a manager. He was either told to inform me that I had “no cause raise a complaint, because I was required to give my card details by the system”, or he decided to tell me that using his own initiative.
We then had a further heated debate about how my account could not be set up without me giving my card details, while I remained insistent that he did not need these details and that I had never previously needed to give them.
I then informed him that during my long period on the phone I had been checking with my bank the validity of his claim that he needed my card details to set up the Direct Debit and that they had debunked his argument and confirmed only a sort code and account number is required.
He then told me (miraculously) that he had managed to set up the account correctly and that it had all gone through – dual fuel, backdated discount and Direct Debit all resolved, just like that. I rang off feeling very skeptical and frustrated.
I called Scottish Power straight back to speak to another adviser, who informed me that neither the account nor the direct debit had been set up. So this new operator very calmly took my details again (minus my card details, which she confirmed she didn't need), and agreed to set up the account and call me back. Still waiting for that call a week later, incidentally.
A complaint letter has been filed so I can then escalate this to the ombudsman as I feel that demanding bank card details is a huge abuse of their position.
What was very enlightening about all this was that the person I spoke to at my bank told me that her parents had been with Scottish Power, who had supplied both their bank details and card details. They found their monthly bill was coming out twice, once by card and once by direct debit. How interesting!
I have had a standard apologetic reply to my complaint email, with a promise to come back to me within 10 working days. In the mean time I have received am email warning me that if I don’t pay my bill they will pass the debt to their collections department.
“If we don’t receive your payment within the next seven days, we may refer your account to our Escalated Collections process.”
I think that’s quite a long time-scale when I am accusing them of scamming their customers so I thought I would resort to the internet to warn others and see if anyone else has had similar bad experiences with Scottish Power? I thought I would name and shame if you have similar experiences so let me know here in this forum or complain to Scottish Power 0800 027 0072 (from landlines) 0345 270 0700 (from mobiles) Monday to Friday 8am - 10pm, Saturday 8.30am - 6pm firstname.lastname@example.org
Unfortunately, Scottish Power have an appalling reputation for ......well, I was going to say customer service, but in reality it is any type of contact actually. OFGEM I believe fined them heavily recently and stopped them for taking on new customers until they had caught up with the backlog of customer complaints.
So knowing this, quite why I decided to change supplier to Scottish Power, I honestly don't know. They have got absolutely everything wrong. I have been struggling for almost four months now, and I'm still on the wrong tariff.
The biggest step forward so far was an email threatening to pass the problem on to OFGEM. They then phoned me.
Incidentally, you are right. The long debit card number is for recurring payments and nothing to do with a direct debit. Recurring payments offer less protection, and can be awkward to stop.
I am associated with Scottish power for 2 years. I was getting excess electricity bill in comparison to my meter reading. I brought this fact before Scottish Power Customer Services here http://qwikfix.co.uk/scottish-power-contact-number/. But no action was taken and next time I again received same pattern bill. This time I personally visited Scottish Power office with hand written complaint and discussed the matter with CEO of the company. He heard me with patience and called the complete record. In record amount showing in the bill was totally different. CEO had taken stern action against the defaulters and warned them. Now I am receiving correct bill.
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