ASK TONY: EDF is chasing me for £2,400 owed by my abusive ex-husband
I am being pursued by EDF Energy for a £2,400 debt built up by my ex-husband. We were married for three years. In that time I was physically and mentally abused.
I finally managed to evict him from my house with the help of police.
It was only when I started clearing out his possessions that I discovered unopened bills — bills I had trusted him to pay with my help.
I rang the companies and explained the situation. The water companies, BT and Sky all said they would pursue him for the debt and allowed me to open new accounts making a fresh start in my name.
The exception was EDF who was adamant I would have to pay. The firm was awful, unsympathetic, rigid and bullying.
It said that to stop matters escalating further I would have to agree to have the debt put into my name and pay £40 per month towards it.
So far I have paid around £1,000, but my bill recently rose to £178 per month.
G.D., address supplied.
Heartless: EDF are attempting to force one reader pay £2,400 owed to them by her abusive ex husband
I was appalled when I read your letter. Energy companies have a code of practice for dealing with those in financial hardship and EDF appears to have ripped it up and thrown it in the bin.
Technically, a householder can be held liable for a debt if they are responsible for the property and the person whose name was on the bill hasn’t paid it.
But your circumstances were exceptional and EDF should have taken them into account, just as Sky, BT and your water companies did.
Now I cannot be certain what happened when you spoke to EDF, but it claims it only recently became fully aware of your circumstances.
I find that difficult to accept given that you gave me the name of the person you have been speaking to — and that all the other companies involved understood and acted honourably.
EDF is now very contrite and has apologised for the distress caused. It claims that you were aware of the outstanding balance in 2013, but a spokesman adds: ‘Had we known the full background to your reader’s request, we would have acted differently.’
EDF has now amended its records so you will only pay for the energy used since July 2014 when you took over the bill.
It will make sure that charges are correctly apportioned between your new account which started then, and the old one for which you will no longer be responsible.
It will be returning the £1,000 you have paid and writing off the other £1,400 as far as you are concerned.
An EDF representative will call you to discuss your tariff and offer any additional support you need to help you manage your energy use.
YOU HAVE YOUR SAY
Every week we get hundreds of letters. Here are some on our report about children injured in shoddily built homes:
Good work, Money Mail. We need to campaign on this issue every week. Nothing will change until we have an independent housing ombudsman.
We’ve got poor-quality homes, demand exceeding supply, rip-off leaseholds — the list goes on.
M. M, Bristol.
My morning walk takes me past a new-build development. I once asked the workers if they’d buy one of the houses.
All said they wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole. Cost-cutting, pressure to finish fast, shoddy materials and insufficient attention to detail are the reasons homes are so poor these days.
C. B., Cornwall.
I had the misfortune of living on a new-build estate for eight years. The roads were badly designed, there was no parking or even internet.
The house itself felt like it would fall down in a strong wind. Leaking pipes, poor materials, mould, a leaking roof . . . never buy a new-build.
J. N., Bristol.
I banked with Alliance & Leicester until Santander took over in 2008. At that time I had two cash Isas which I was saving into, in case I had to go into care.
I’m now 85 years old and not in the best of health. In August 2010 I switched from Santander to another bank.
When I received the paperwork following the transfer, there was nothing to confirm that the cash Isa had been transferred.
Santander said it had paid the money. I have attempted to get this matter sorted out on a number of occasions, contacting both Santander and the ombudsman to no avail.
M. H., Southampton.
I spoke to Santander. A spokesman for the bank confirmed that you had indeed been in contact with the Financial Ombudsman Service, which upheld the complaint in Santander’s favour.
Here’s what happened. You opened a cash Isa with Santander in 2009. You closed this in April 2010 and the balance of just over £12,000 plus £76 interest was transferred into a new one — again with Santander.
All the funds from this, a total of £12,230, were transferred to Halifax in September 2010.
I understand it can be very easy to become muddled about Isa accounts when often we have opened a new one each year, then later transferred some of them.
However, your money did move to Halifax and there is nothing left at Santander.
Vodafone has duplicated my account, meaning I have been double-billed for a number of months. It was only when I started receiving text messages and emails demanding payments that I became aware of the situation.
I am due to renew my mortgage very soon so I obtained a copy of my credit report to find that Vodafone has applied a default to it.
When I contacted Vodafone it denied this was on there. I was then told by another representative that the default had been removed. Checking my report a month later, it still existed. I have now received a letter from Vodafone saying my account has been suspended because I owe £25.
I am incredibly stressed and anxious about this as my mortgage is due to renew in June.
R. N., by email.
Worry no more. The problem has now been resolved and Vodafone has apologised to you over the incorrect billing.
It says the second account was set up as a temporary measure and should have been closed immediately. It has now done this. In addition it has corrected your credit file so you need not be concerned about applying for a new mortgage.
Vodafone has also placed a £100 credit on your account by way of apology.