Are the energy companies beginning to clean up their act? I’ve had two calls in the past week, both of which were resolved when the energy company involved relented.

The first case concerned Darshan Singh, who trades as Boldon Lane Wines in South Shields. He was contacted by an energy broker from Scotland, Murshid Enterprises, who offered him a cheaper energy rate than he had with E.ON. The retailer explained that he was in a contract, but the broker said ‘We can get you out of it and if E.ON rings tell them you have sold the business’. He was even supplied with a false buyer’s name to give to E.ON.

What if E.ON calls for the new owner’s number? he asked. Tell them you don’t have the number, he was told.

This subterfuge turned out to be unnecessary as E.ON did not contact him, but apparently let him out of his contract. When he received his new tariff from Opus Energy he discovered that he would be paying 5p more per Kw than he previously paid. This means that his £300-odd bill for two weeks will now go up by about £130 (2,617 Kw per fortnight). As a small business he can ill afford this increase.

When he complained he was told that he was stuck and they had it on tape.

He then asked Opus to be let out of the contract and he was told this wasn’t possible. When he told Opus he was going to a solicitor and that he was going to tell his story to a magazine, he was told: “That’s your choice.”

I contacted Opus, which didn’t seem at first to be in a compliant frame of mind. When I pointed out Darshan would hardly switch suppliers if the cost was going to go up, the company agreed to let him out of the contract.

The second case I had already reported in the January 4 issue. Jignesh Patel had been stuck with a bill for more than £600 from EDF that took 18 months to arrive after he had switched suppliers, despite him requesting the bill on several occasions. When the demand finally arrived the company wanted it settled pronto, or said court action might be involved.

He adds: “I finally managed to speak to someone at EDF with some common sense. They asked me what figure I wanted for compensation if I cleared off the bill, so I asked for £100. I should’ve asked for more!”