Firm in battle over power bill

PUBLISHED: 11:35 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:20 04 May 2010

A BLUNDER by a giant electricity company has left Soham businessman Jonathan James facing a bill for more than £34,000. Mr James, who owns the Budgens store in the town and four others across Cambridgeshire, is now locked in a battle with the company and

A BLUNDER by a giant electricity company has left Soham businessman Jonathan James facing a bill for more than £34,000.

Mr James, who owns the Budgens store in the town and four others across Cambridgeshire, is now locked in a battle with the company and is prepared to go to court.

The error happened after Powergen failed to update its records when a new meter was installed at Mr James' Chatteris supermarket and dates back to estimated meter readings from 2003.

Despite being offered a 15 per cent reduction in the bill and a gradual payment plan, Mr James is refusing to pay and says he will see the company in court.

He has also called in South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice who is taking up the case with the electricity industry watchdog, Energywatch.

The electricity company has passed the debt over to a collection agency after no payments were received on the outstanding balance.

"It's not that I can't pay my bill, it's the principle," Mr James said. "I received a phone call saying that my business could be closed down.

"I've heard some sad stories from people in similar situations, and f this sort of money could be the difference between staying afloat and going under."

Mr James claims he received a phone call in October last year from Powergen, now taken over by E.ON, asking for £20,000.But when he received the bill on paper the amount had risen to £34,542.

A spokesperson for E.ON said "The reason behind the large bill is because our records were not updated after Mr James' new meter was fitted. We discussed this with Mr James in November 2007 to apologise for the error and offered a 15 per cent reduction on the outstanding balance.

"The outstanding amount is based on actual meter readings using the lowest available contract price since the new meter was fitted.

"No payments have been received on the outstanding balance. As is the normal process, the debt was passed to a collection agency last week.

"Due to Mr James' concerns about the way this agency has dealt with this account we have asked them to review the way in which they contact customers on our behalf.

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