Meter error left retiree paying neighbour’s £400 a month energy bills for six years | Personal Finance | Finance

A retired midwife unknowingly paid her neighbour’s energy bill for several years due to a huge error.

Judith Stenner, 72, from Manchester, said a “weight has gone off my shoulders” after MPs intervened to help her get her money back.

The mum saw her energy bills increase from £60 a month to more than £400, due to a crossed meter last winter.

She explained that she has endured a “bit of a marathon” to try and resolve the ordeal.

She questioned her energy bill provider ScottishPower to know why her bill had risen so much, however they told her she was classed as a “high energy user”.

Ms Stenner had taken all necessary precautions to try and lower her bill as she didn’t think her provider could help her cut it down.

She tried lowering her energy usage by rarely cooking at home, switching all electrical appliances off, and turning her heating off during the winter months – but her bills continued to rise.

Ms Stenner said she went into a “numb phase that nobody is believing you and nobody is listening” as she struggled to resolve the issue and her bills kept rising despite becoming a “bit obsessive about switching everything off all the time”.

Her case was raised in the House of Commons and MPs heard the breast cancer survivor had been paying the energy bills of a family of four next door for much of the six years she had lived in the flat.

The problem was finally identified this summer, which showed her meter was crossed.

However, it took another 14 weeks for further necessary changes to be made.

Labour’s Afzal Khan, who represents Ms Stenner as the MP for Manchester Gorton, said no vulnerable person “should be going to bed cold at night” while Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt condemned the “appalling situation”.

Mr Khan said Judith has been “treated terribly” and had been “gaslit for years” by her energy provider. 

He added: “I believe energy providers should be working for their customers, but it feels too often they are working against them. The entire sector needs to get its act together.”

A ScottishPower spokeswoman said: “We’re really sorry about the issues and distress experienced by Mr Khan’s constituent, which is unacceptable and falls far below the level of service we aim to provide. Since we visited the property and identified the crossed meter issue at the start of the summer, we’ve been working with the other energy suppliers involved – who also had to take certain actions – to get this matter sorted as quickly as possible.

“We’re now at the point where we will be able to accurately calculate the constituent’s actual energy usage and costs and we are in touch with her directly and with Mr Khan’s office. We apologise again that it has taken longer than we would have liked to resolve this matter.”

Ms Stenner moved into the flat in 2016 but said the error became more obvious in 2018 and 2019 due to a hike in her bills after a neighbouring family moved in. 

She said it feels as though a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, saying of the experience: “I’ve gone past crying, I’ve gone past shouting, you just go into a numb phase that nobody is believing you and nobody is listening, what am I going to do.

“But fortunately, which I should have done sooner, once my daughter was involved with her partner, they just took things in hand and that’s where we are today.”

Her daughter Semra said it had been “a little bit of a whirlwind” since her mother’s case was raised in Parliament and she thanked the Labour MP and his team for their “wonderful” help. 


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