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Couple left ‘humiliated’ after energy firm breaks into their home and installs new meter by mistake

today29 June 2022

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A couple have been felt feeling ‘humiliated’ after an energy firm broke into their home and installed a new meter by mistake. The couple from Hull returned to their home to find an energy company had entered their home and changed the locks.

A pre-paid meter had been installed in the house, despite the couple never having been customers of the energy firm. Homeowners Rachel Holgate and her partner were locked out of their house for four hours leaving them feeling ‘sick’ and ‘humiliated’.

Hull Live reports that the couple are now ‘stuck’ with a pre-paid meter which has no account attached and have no idea how to top it up. Hull Live understands that the error came from a case of ‘erroneous transfer’, where an energy company takes over the wrong account.

Read more: Intimidating and anti-social behaviour near cinema amid warning over groups travelling to town

SSE Energy, the company behind the mistake, has apologised. Rachael, 24, and her partner had always been customers of Shell and had never defaulted on a single energy bill.

They began to receive letters from SSE Energy through the post, addressed to another man, but returned them to the sender, believing the company had got the wrong address. It was only when bailiffs turned up at their door that the couple discovered that a warrant had been obtained by SSE Energy (now run by OVO Energy) to install a pre-paid energy meter within their home. However, the warrant was addressed to the other man.

After explaining that they owned the property and nobody of that name lived there, the bailiffs apologised for the mistake and gave Rachael and her partner a customer service number to correct the error. However, despite “hours” on the phone, because the couple did not have an account with SSE, operators would not discuss the account with them, Rachael said.

“I must have been on the phone to customer service for hours to try to sort the mistake, but, because I wasn’t a customer, they couldn’t discuss any account with me due to data protection,” she added. “They couldn’t even make a record of anything because there was no account to make notes on, so I had to explain myself over and over again.”

Then, one evening, Rachael, who works as a travel agent, returned home to find her partner sitting outside their house. The locks had been changed and a note on the door said it had been done by the “energy supply company” and they should call a number to get new keys.

“When we called the number, the office had closed and the machine said they would open at 10am the following morning,” she said. “We were locked out until 10pm, for four hours, before we finally managed to get someone to let us in.”

Rachael’s partner works as a bricklayer and had to miss one of his jobs that evening because he couldn’t get his tools from inside the house. Upon going into their property, they found a pre-paid meter, with exactly £4.72 credit, had been installed in their cupboard by OVO Energy.

Rachael said: “I just felt sick knowing that somebody had broken into our home and installed a meter, without our knowledge. Because the letters had somebody else’s name on, I couldn’t legally open them to know anything and the warrant obtained wasn’t even for us.”

“We have always paid our bills on time with Shell, and they erroneously transferred us to SSE Energy (OVO Energy) without even letting us know. We are now stuck with this meter with no account and no idea how to top it up.

“With the price of energy nowadays, we are in such an awful position now. For our neighbours to watch bailiffs break into our property is absolutely humiliating, when we have done nothing wrong.”

Miss Holgate decided to do her own digging to find out who the man on the warrant was, as she knew the previous homeowners did not share his name. Taking to Facebook, she found a man from Hull with the same name and asked if he had ever lived at her address. He said he had lived down that street, but never at that particular house number.

The couple are now going through the Energy Ombudsman to remedy the mistake, which they say has left them feeling uncomfortable in their own home. SSE Energy (OVO Energy) advised it may take up to 15 days to get back to her and she is having to use the meter in the meantime. She has also contacted the police.

An spokesperson for SSE Energy Services said: “We’re very sorry to Mrs Holgate for the inconvenience caused. We’re attempting to reach Mrs Holgate to apologise and provide a resolution”

Hull Live understands that Rachael was victim to what is known as an erroneous transfer. This is where an account is transferred from one supplier to another by mistake, for example when an actual energy customer accidentally clicks the wrong address, so another property is billed for their energy.

It is understood that the error should have been noticed after Rachael contacted SSE Energy to explain the customer did not live at her address. However, as this was not followed up, bills continued to be sent to her address. Shell Energy, the couple’s original supplier, were contacted for comment by Hull Live.

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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