A power firm has apologised after a new tenant was left without heating or electricity for more than a fortnight after he was forced to clear a £50 of debt on the energy meter from a previous householder.
Francis McDougall was set to move into his new home near Hartlepool town centre, but came up against a series of problems with the payment card he was issued.
I know I could go round my Mam’s and I was grateful to everyone who helped, but I’m a man in his 40s, I should have a place of my own.Francis McDougall
He also had to borrow cash from a friend after he had to use his own money to pay off the amount racked up on the meter while the issues were resolved.
Thirteen, which rents out the property, has told the Mail it is not a landlord’s responsibilty to ensure debts are cleared from meters, which often have a standing charge which makes it difficult to avoid amounts building up.
Energy provider Spark has apologised to Mr McDougall for what happened, which left him without electricity and gas from the middle of last month until earlier this month.
It went on to credit him the funds and an additional £25 after more than two weeks, which he said hit his bank on January 4.
The 41-year-old, who occasionally uses a wheelchair after having a stroke and is on Universal Credit, said he was saddened he had to turn to friends and family for help when he had hoped to be taking charge of his own home.
He said he had made a series of calls to both energy firm and landlord to try and resolve the issues, but was disappointed with their response.
“Spark asked me for my bank details and said it would put the money back in my account, but when I asked how long it would take they said until January,” he said.
“That’s a long time to go without it or power or gas.
“They didn’t seem to care.
“I was still in the property, but it was freezing.”
Following Spark’s apology, he said: “I think it’s quite shocking actually.
“This happened all the way through the Christmas holidays and inside my house it was Baltic cold.
“I know I could go round my mam’s and I was grateful to everyone who helped, but I’m a man in his 40s, I should have a place of my own.”
A spokesperson for Spark Energy said: “We’d like to apologise to Mr McDougall for the issues he experienced with his gas supply after moving house.
“Unfortunately the property’s prepayment meter fell into arrears before the customer moved in, but our team has refunded him for costs incurred in settling the debit as well as providing a goodwill credit for the inconvenience – paid into his account on December 28.
“We’re disappointed Mr McDougall’s experience fell below our usual high standards but we’re pleased the situation is now resolved.”
A spokesperson for Thirteen said: “We’re pleased that this issue has been resolved.
“We facilitated communication between the customer and the energy provider, as we would always do when someone moves into one of our properties.”
It added it gives customers supplier details and advises them to contact the firm as soon as possible to set up an account and arrange new cards or keys for pre-paid meters.