SHOCK: East Lancs couple receive £500m electricity bill

Mr Brotherton with the shock bill

Mr Brotherton with the shock bill

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

BLUNDERING electricity chiefs estimated shocked grandparents Nigel and Linda Brotherton had run up a massive electric bill of more than £500million.

Then they sent the couple a bill saying that to pay it off their monthly direct debit would be increased from just £87 to a whopping £53.5million.

The Brothertons, who live in Roughlee, were told they didn’t need to do anything because the money would be taken automatically from their bank.

But accountant Nigel, 62, said: “There was just one problem with that – I didn’t quite have £53million in my current account at the time.”

The problem arose after the Scottish Power electricity board installed a new meter at the couple’s 16th Century cottage home.

Their electrician connected one of the wires the wrong way round so that instead of recording the number or units used it didn’t register any and continued showing zero.

Nigel and Linda, 59, say that they did not notice because they paid their bill by direct debit each month and were never asked to give a reading.

But after they recently switched suppliers to npower, a man was sent round to read their meter.

When he entered a reading of 'zero', npower’s computer wrongly assumed the dials must have gone all round the clock – and automatically flagged up the huge bill.

Bizarrely, though, the online bill also showed that the couple had actually overpaid and were in credit by £1,362.69.

But despite repeated phone calls to npower, and contacting the regulator Ofgen, the couple are still waiting for a refund and written confirmation they won’t have to fork out the £53,480,062.00 a month. Father-of-two Nigel said: “It’s a good job they didn’t actually try to take all that money from my bank account.

“Not only would it have gone way over my overdraft limit, but it could have brought down the bank. The electricity board have admitted it is a mistake and told us we don’t need to pay the money but we are still waiting for the refund they owe us.”

Infamous Alice Nutter, one of the notorious Pendle witches who was hanged 400 years ago, is reputed to have once lived in the couple’s cottage.

Nigel added: “Perhaps she put a curse on the meter. But if the electricity board doesn’t sort this out quick I’ll get her to put a curse on them.”

A spokesman for npower apologised and said: “This was clearly a mistake.

“Mr Brotherton’s meter was incorrectly wired by his previous supplier and not npower, which had a knock-on effect to how we billed the account. His payments are set at £87, so no extra money will be taken and we have processed a refund which should be with Mr Brotherton soon.”

Comments (14)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:13am Wed 23 Jul 14

The old faithfull says...

Pay up, these power companies never,ever, make mistakes !
Pay up, these power companies never,ever, make mistakes ! The old faithfull
  • Score: 23

9:15am Wed 23 Jul 14

useyourhead says...

shocking...... lol
shocking...... lol useyourhead
  • Score: 14

9:17am Wed 23 Jul 14

shimmy says...

Why is this news?
Why is this news? shimmy
  • Score: -2

10:45am Wed 23 Jul 14

Openminded? says...

Clearly its a mistake, why take it to the press?
Clearly its a mistake, why take it to the press? Openminded?
  • Score: -5

11:20am Wed 23 Jul 14

Yorkshire Dave from gods county says...

Openminded? wrote:
Clearly its a mistake, why take it to the press?
Exactly
[quote][p][bold]Openminded?[/bold] wrote: Clearly its a mistake, why take it to the press?[/p][/quote]Exactly Yorkshire Dave from gods county
  • Score: -7

1:09pm Wed 23 Jul 14

the beaver says...

He went to the press probably because unlike you miserable gets, he saw the funny side and to share the incompetence of these utility companies. And to shame them into paying what is owed a bit sooner. If the time it takes them to pay up was the other way round they would slap you with a CCJ for non-payment.
He went to the press probably because unlike you miserable gets, he saw the funny side and to share the incompetence of these utility companies. And to shame them into paying what is owed a bit sooner. If the time it takes them to pay up was the other way round they would slap you with a CCJ for non-payment. the beaver
  • Score: 27

3:00pm Wed 23 Jul 14

janie64 says...

The one things that does spring to mind here is that are they even right with their charges with someone receiving what looks like a pretty normal bill? I have often wondered myself as I cannot make head nor tail out of how the charges are calculated due to there being different ones over different periods of time. This is on a quarterly bill, no way would I trust them using a Direct Debit (same goes for the Council Tax).
The one things that does spring to mind here is that are they even right with their charges with someone receiving what looks like a pretty normal bill? I have often wondered myself as I cannot make head nor tail out of how the charges are calculated due to there being different ones over different periods of time. This is on a quarterly bill, no way would I trust them using a Direct Debit (same goes for the Council Tax). janie64
  • Score: 10

5:09pm Wed 23 Jul 14

HelmshoreMan2010 says...

Putting the 500m error to one side for now, I'm not sure they should pay him the £1,362.69 in one go.

If he had under paid by £1,362.69 they would have just upped his direct debit rather than take it all at once (when they thought it was 500m they increased his DD to 53.5m) so logically they should just lower his DD.
Putting the 500m error to one side for now, I'm not sure they should pay him the £1,362.69 in one go. If he had under paid by £1,362.69 they would have just upped his direct debit rather than take it all at once (when they thought it was 500m they increased his DD to 53.5m) so logically they should just lower his DD. HelmshoreMan2010
  • Score: -8

5:13pm Wed 23 Jul 14

HelmshoreMan2010 says...

Also a good genuine tip for everybody, I know e-on (and I assume others) allow you to enter your readings online as often as you like. I have both gas and electricity with e-on and enter my own readings once a month so my bill isn't even estimated.

Setting up for online billing isn't too tricky and I think most companies offer you £5 ish off a year for going paperless. You aren't going to break the bank with £5 but it's a couple of free beers courtesy of e-on!
Also a good genuine tip for everybody, I know e-on (and I assume others) allow you to enter your readings online as often as you like. I have both gas and electricity with e-on and enter my own readings once a month so my bill isn't even estimated. Setting up for online billing isn't too tricky and I think most companies offer you £5 ish off a year for going paperless. You aren't going to break the bank with £5 but it's a couple of free beers courtesy of e-on! HelmshoreMan2010
  • Score: 9

7:22pm Wed 23 Jul 14

bow1974 says...

HelmshoreMan2010 wrote:
Also a good genuine tip for everybody, I know e-on (and I assume others) allow you to enter your readings online as often as you like. I have both gas and electricity with e-on and enter my own readings once a month so my bill isn't even estimated.

Setting up for online billing isn't too tricky and I think most companies offer you £5 ish off a year for going paperless. You aren't going to break the bank with £5 but it's a couple of free beers courtesy of e-on!
Very true I also was with eon untill I found first utility they have the same online service with no paperwork just submit your readings monthly but at 13p per unit against 19p for gas much better value I'm saving on average £25 quid a month £300 a year suggest you check what you could save
[quote][p][bold]HelmshoreMan2010[/bold] wrote: Also a good genuine tip for everybody, I know e-on (and I assume others) allow you to enter your readings online as often as you like. I have both gas and electricity with e-on and enter my own readings once a month so my bill isn't even estimated. Setting up for online billing isn't too tricky and I think most companies offer you £5 ish off a year for going paperless. You aren't going to break the bank with £5 but it's a couple of free beers courtesy of e-on![/p][/quote]Very true I also was with eon untill I found first utility they have the same online service with no paperwork just submit your readings monthly but at 13p per unit against 19p for gas much better value I'm saving on average £25 quid a month £300 a year suggest you check what you could save bow1974
  • Score: 4

7:29pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Lancslad01 says...

16th century cottage....relevance
?Alice Nutter...relevance?H
ow unless it all adds to the sale price of the 16th century cottage
16th century cottage....relevance ?Alice Nutter...relevance?H ow unless it all adds to the sale price of the 16th century cottage Lancslad01
  • Score: 0

10:34pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Smacx25 says...

Its an easy mistake to make, The bill says £50 million and not your headline of £500 million. Just the odd zero :)
Its an easy mistake to make, The bill says £50 million and not your headline of £500 million. Just the odd zero :) Smacx25
  • Score: 0

10:40am Thu 24 Jul 14

POW WOW says...

It's a criminal offence in the United States to wrongly bill someone and the debtor is then not obliged to pay.......... we should have the same laws over here.
It's a criminal offence in the United States to wrongly bill someone and the debtor is then not obliged to pay.......... we should have the same laws over here. POW WOW
  • Score: 1

12:14pm Thu 24 Jul 14

HelmshoreMan2010 says...

Smacx25 wrote:
Its an easy mistake to make, The bill says £50 million and not your headline of £500 million. Just the odd zero :)
The bill was for 500 million, the monthly direct debit was for 52 million.
[quote][p][bold]Smacx25[/bold] wrote: Its an easy mistake to make, The bill says £50 million and not your headline of £500 million. Just the odd zero :)[/p][/quote]The bill was for 500 million, the monthly direct debit was for 52 million. HelmshoreMan2010
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree