Collapsed: but threats to pick up the bills from these energy companies continue

Your article “Pay Up or Else” reported that customers of the defunct Extra Energy are being threatened over unsubstantiated final bills. I have a similar problem with Corporate Debt Solutions Global, debt collector for failed energy supplier Solarplicity.

I switched from Solarplicity to Eversmart in July, three weeks before the former ceased trading, and provided up-to-date meter readings to both. In October, CDS sent a £142 final bill based on estimated figures, without explanation. I asked for a revised bill based on my readings. Instead, I received threats of legal enforcement unless I paid. My three further requests for an accurate bill have been ignored.

AW, London

Your experience mirrors that of numerous Extra customers, and suggests that mopping up after failed energy companies is a shambles. Only last month, Breeze became the ninth supplier to collapse in a year.

While energy regulator Ofgem ensures that customers are transferred seamlessly to an appointed alternative known as a “Supplier of Last Resort”, it has no powers over the administrators who sort out final bills on behalf of the defunct company. In an open letter to insolvency practitioners last November it condemned some “extremely disappointing” practices which have led to “avoidable consumer harm”.

Some customers have been coerced into paying huge unsubstantiated sums and pursued for unbilled energy used more that 12 months previously, which is unlawful. The administrator for Solarplicity is Price Bailey which retained Solarplicity staff to undertake final billing.

It told the Observer that CDS has access to Solarplicity’s customer billing platform and is able to provide bill details and amendments. Except, in your case, it did neither. Online forums report that Solarplicity customers have struggled to contact CDS.

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When I rang the company, both numbers on its website and the one provided by EDF which inherited Solarplicity customers, were out of action. CDS said it was looking into “any technical issues” and admitted failings in your case.

“We would like to extend our sincere apologies and assure the customer that we take appropriate steps to ensure these issues have been rectified.”

Within four days it had found your readings and issued a revised bill of £46, although you received no apology or explanation.

Ofgem said that, like Extra, Solarplicity’s record-keeping was inadequate and that customers must ensure they take readings when they switch or are moved to another supplier. Which, of course, you did!

Meanwhile, JP of Poynton, Cheshire, has received a refund of the £1,047 she was owed by Extra Energy when it ceased trading over a year ago, after pressure from the Observer. “It took eight months to get the statement showing the credit,” she writes. “Since then, I have been trying to get the money from Scottish Power, the ‘Supplier of Last Resort’. In August, the ombudsman ruled Scottish Power should pay up and add £100 compensation. It hasn’t. The ombudsman merely says that, as Scottish Power has not complied, it has to open another complaint and carry out a full investigation, even though it agreed I am owed the money.”

Media spotlight prompted Scottish Power to discover that it had sent a cheque which must have gone astray. It issued a new one the day I got involved.

If you need help email Anna Tims at or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Publication is subject to our terms and conditions


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