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EDF threatens to come to elderly woman’s home to collect £15,000 debt she didn’t owe

Energy giant EDF has apologised after threatening to go to an elderly woman’s home to collect a £15,000 debt she didn’t owe.

The French company, which saw profits at its UK arm bounce back to more than £1bn last year thanks to soaring energy prices, blamed incorrect information it had received from the national database of electricity supply.

It is the latest in a string of reports of people being wrongly billed by energy companies such as EDF.

Last year, Citizens Advice said the standard of customer services at energy companies “plummeted” and previous research has suggested as many as 15 per cent of customers believe they have been sent an inaccurate bill.

Greg Grimer has been handling the dispute on behalf of the elderly woman, a family friend who i is not identifying because she is vulnerable.

He told i he thinks energy firms such as EDF need to do more to ensure such serious misbilling incidents do not keep happening.

“It’s disgraceful,” Mr Grimer said.

“If you start sending out bills like this to older people, they could end up harming themselves.

“I would like them to answer as to how a bill for £15,000, which has got no merit whatsoever, gets to somebody without a human being checking ‘does it make sense?’

“It’s certainly incompetence – but I would argue there must be some sort of policy where they think ‘this is too expensive to sort out ourselves, the customers that don’t think they owe us £15,000 will get in touch’.

“I think it’s sheer bad will on their part.

“You could have people paying bills who never know. What about executors who [receive] these bills? They might just pay up.”

Greg Grimer has spent countless hours trying to get EDF to stop sending incorrect debt letters to an elderly friend (Photo: Supplied)
EDF sent a bill threatening to come to an elderly woman’s home in a bid to collect a £15,000 debt she didn’t owe (Photo: Supplied)

Mr Grimer claimed he has been dealing with the EDF saga on behalf of his friend for three years.

It began when he switched her account from EDF to a new provider, Bulb energy, in the summer of 2020. Six months later, she received a bill for £6,500.

Mr Grimer disputed the bill with EDF and the company eventually conceded it was the result of ‘overclocking’ – an issue where an electricity meter runs out of digits and resets.

i previously revealed how another EDF customer was threatened with an incorrect £10,000 bill because their meter didn’t have enough digits and ‘overclocked’.

Mr Grimer thought the matter was settled in 2020, but in April this year the woman suddenly received another bill from EDF, this time backdated more than ten years and for more than £15,000.

In the past three months, Mr Grimer said he has spent countless hours speaking to EDF on the phone and writing emails to explain that the energy firm had made a mistake.

He claimed that on several occasions, he received an apology and was told the issue had been resolved only for fresh letters to appear.

On 22 May, EDF sent a ‘final notice’ letter, which said if the woman didn’t pay the bill, the company could “come to your house on or after 01 June 2023 to collect payment in full” or seek to obtain a County Court Judgement.

On 2 June, a letter arrived from a third-party debt collector that said further charges would be incurred.

At least six letters were sent in little more than six weeks about the debt before finally, on 7 June, EDF admitted it had got the matter wrong again and apologised to Mr Grimer and the woman.

A spokesperson for EDF told i: “Having investigated the account, it appears that we have received new information from the national database of electricity supply, which has caused the account to be billed and correspondence to be sent to [the woman’s address].

“We have been in touch with Mr Grimer to let him know this, apologise for any inconvenience caused, and confirm that we’ve reversed all the bills and placed holds on the account to stop any further correspondence being sent.

“We’ve since completed the required work to correct the national database records to prevent this from happening again. The national database contains information about the supply of electricity to each address in the UK.”

Ofgem says it recently carried out a ‘deep dive’ into the performance of energy companies which saw 11 suppliers – including EDF – singled out for “moderate weakness” in their standards of customer service.

Neil Lawrence, director of retail at Ofgem, said in February that it was clear standards were “not good enough” and promised “firm action” if there wasn’t improvement.

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