The morals of big businesses have been called into question lately. That, coupled with Ofgem’s ‘pledge’ to protect small firms, came down like a big thumb on Jignesh Patel.

Jignesh switched energy suppliers in April 2011. At the time he contacted EDF and E-ON, his new supplier, with the meter reading and assumed it would be a simple process and that EDF would invoice him in a reasonable time. But he didn’t receive the final bill at his store, Shreeji in North-west London, until November 9, 2012. The bill for £626.32, for the period November 11, 2010-March 31, 2011, took 18 months to arrive.

And it wasn’t as though Jignesh had sat around eyeing up the calendar and thinking goodie-goodie, they’ve forgotten me. He rang them up to enquire about the final bill on a couple of occasions.

As he notes in a letter to EDF: “You also sent me correspondence on May 3, 2011 to apologise about the delay in finalising the account and that was the last contact until the final invoice.”

When he did finally receive it he contacted customer services to request the previous quarter’s invoice so he could check to see if the readings were right. “At the time she said that if I delayed payment there would be court proceedings, or words to that effect, to which my response was that I would go to the ombudsman.”

He did go to Ofgem but got no satisfaction. Ofgem sent him to Citizens Advice, which offered the number of a helpline for debts.

He is dissatisfied with the service he received from one of the country’s largest suppliers of electricity. And he is now in the difficult position of finding funds to settle what EDF should note is down to its own ineptitude.

Cash flow does affect all businesses, but when the big ones whop it to the small ones in such a fashion it is entirely unfair.