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Mum forced to switch to prepayment meter wins compensation

Martin Lewis gives voucher advice to those on prepayment meters

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A woman has been awarded more than £600 in compensation after she was switched to a prepayment meter without being told. Claire Marie, 33, said she was left without a way to pay for her energy for four days following the move by Utility Warehouse. The issue started after Claire-Marie, who also had a phone contract with Utility Warehouse, had tried to change her direct debit to correlate with her pay day.

The worried parent had fallen behind on her bills and said she had been trying to clear her debt by paying extra every month, reports the Mirror.

But as a result of being in arrears, she ended up being put onto a prepayment meter after struggling to find a resolution with the energy firm.

After being helped by consumer champion Helen Dewdney, also known as The Complaining Cow, Claire-Marie has now been awarded £624.

Helen explained: “Claire-Marie had been trying for many months to get the monthly payment date for her direct debit changed to correspond with her pay day and clear the debt on the energy account.

“However, she says Utility Warehouse told her this was not possible as it only allows payment dates on the last or first day of the month.

“Back in 2021, Claire-Marie had got muddled over one payment and had missed paying the previous month.

“This meant for about eight months she was paying extra on the 15th of the month to try and clear the balance.

“But, because she was one month in arrears, the company were cutting off her mobile phone on the 9th or 10th of every month.”

Claire-Marie said “they kept disconnecting my services, rather than allowing me to pay on the 15th as I did every time”.

Helen added: “This contributed to her anxiety and on one occasion meant that she was unable to ring Lifeline, her GP and the West Yorkshire Mental Health Support team support service.

“She cancelled the phone part of the contract in February 2021. After ten months of trying to sort out the issue, Utility Warehouse installed a prepayment meter for her gas, without informing her that this had been done.

“Utility Warehouse installed the meter on December 16 but didn’t tell her until December 19 and left no instructions on how to pay.”

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A spokesperson for Utility Warehouse said: “In the customer’s time with Utility Warehouse, our call records show that we have worked with them on a number of occasions to help manage their account.”

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