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Power firm condemned over war veteran's suicide bid
By Nigel Bunyan
Last Updated: 6:26PM BST 04/07/2008
A power company has been condemned over its treatment of a war veteran who tried to commit suicide as he struggled to pay his bills after being overcharged.
Walter Bargate, 84, who served with Bomber Command during the Second World War, swallowed 100 pills after his electricity supply was cut off.

As he recovered it emerged that E.ON had been overcharging him fourfold because the two meters in his home in Great Moor, Stockport, Greater Manchester, had been wired incorrectly.

Mr Bargate's family only learned of the pensioner's plight when they read in his scrawled suicide note that e.on had been the 'catalyst' for the attempt on his life.

The company still insists that its staff acted "fairly and appropriately" in pursuing Mr Bargate's £6,500 debt.

But his daughter, Sarah Hayes, 50, said: "They behaved in the most atrocious manner from beginning to end. It chokes me to think how desperate he must have felt.

"I'm disgusted with this company who even a few days before my father's suicide attempt could not recognise his vulnerability".

The watchdog organization Energywatch also criticized E.ON for what it described as "a catalogue of crass errors".

Mr Bargate's suicide note explained how a few days earlier engineers had entered his home and installed a pre-payment meter.

After two days the meter ran out of credit and his power was cut off. The pensioner, who is physically impaired and lived alone, said he topped up his account but never had his supply restored. He then called the company for advice but said he was left hanging on for over three hours.

With her father still in hospital, Mrs Hayes contacted E.ON whose staff told her he owed £6,500 on for energy payments accrued since 2003.

It emerged that he had been unable to pay increasingly high bills - of up to £1,800 a quarter - and had hidden the debt from his family.

Mrs Hayes, who has taken her father into her own home in Burnage, Manchester, said: "He became afraid and stopped opening his letters. But this was an old man, living alone with hardly any appliances and making a concerted effort to use off-peak energy. It didn't add up".

A subsequent investigation by Energywatch revealed that the two meters in his home, one for standard use power, one for off-peak, had been incorrectly wired.

The ombudsman ruled that E.ON should write off the £6,500 and apologise to the family.

Adam Scorer, of Energywatch, said the company had failed both to adequately manage Mr Bargate's account and to investigate possible reasons for his seemingly high energy use.

He added: "E.ON have a legal and moral obligation to acknowledge the horrendous impact of their actions on Mr Bargate's quality of life and to provide suitable redress".

A spokesman for E.ON said: "In this case we had not received payment for over two years, despite our numerous calls and letters regarding the outstanding balance. We were therefore granted a warrant to fit a prepayment meter at Mr Bargate's property.

"The customer was concerned with overcharging on the account due to incorrect wiring. This has since been resolved and the outstanding amount left on the account has now been withdrawn".

E.ON said in a statement: "We believe we have acted fairly and appropriately under the circumstances. We are extremely concerned to hear that this issue may have in anyway impacted Mr Bargate's personal wellbeing.

We were not aware of Mr Bargate's medical condition and had we known of this, we certainly would have taken it into full consideration.

A spokesman added: "The sum outstanding on the account from properly functioning meters was in the region of £1,500. This has been completely written off as recommended by the energy Ombudsman. We offer our sincere apologies for the upset and concern that this matter has caused".
From the Torygraph

'Sincere apologies.' Good enough? My Outrageometer has his the red.

PTP- I did a search but this may already exist. Please delete if so.
I wonder how many others are being overcharged by e.on. My bill reduced dramatically when I confronted them with six month's worth of daily recordings that I'd logged. Fcuking chancers. Just mention OFGEN.
From the Daily Mail
Mrs Hayes then discovered her father's suicide note and unopened correspondence demanding £6,600 in unpaid bills.

She referred the matter to the energy-supply ombudsman, who discovered the faulty wiring and said E.ON UK should write off the debt and £500 compensation.

The ruling suggested that while the faulty wiring dated from 2002 when the meters were installed, the problem could go back to 1983 when E.ON took over his supply.

Mrs Hayes, of Burnage, Greater Manchester, is taking legal action to try to recoup £10,000 she estimates her father overpaid and to secure compensation.

... Mr Bargate's story will feature on ITV1's Tonight programme on Monday at 8pm
She ought to claim interest as well!! :x
Despite my symapthies this older gentleman ignored all E.ON correspondence for 2 years and was dealt with as any other customer would have been. He also refused to seek help from his children who are now championing his cause. If some scumbag chav hadn't paid his elec. bill and had his hosue broken into and a meter installed we on ARRSE would all be jumping for joy. E.ON showed no discrimination here.

The fact he was overcharged is another matter. I hope he gets sorted out and makes a full recovery.

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