Sometimes even when you go by the book things can go wrong. Ossie Aujla's four Nisa stores in County Durham were supplied by Scottish Power. His daughter Kully says they sent in their notice by recorded delivery last summer to end the contract by September. They had been told that the renewal deal would remain the same.

When the recorded letter was ignored they didn't push their new deal with Npower as the Scottish Power tariff they were on was quite good.

They were shocked then when they found that their bill had shot up from February to £9,500 instead of a usual £3,500.

When they contacted Scottish Power they were told that they had been informed of this increase in writing in November.

"They accepted that we had given notice," says Kully, "but when I asked them to email me a copy of the letter with the increase it had been sent to the wrong address and had the wrong name."

Strange that, the bills always arrive at the correct address.

After some wrangling it agreed to let them out of the contract. However, this wouldn't be allowed if the family did not pay the direct debit due and the following one. So an extra £12,000 to Scottish Power over Feb-Mar for the same product.

Kully went to the so-called watchdog Consumer Direct. This helpline took over from Energy Watch when it was disbanded last year. Energy Watch had a business team and did at least attempt to help in cases such as this. But Consumer Direct told her that, as the family employed more than four people, it didn't qualify as a small business.

There have been government noises lately about the reintroduction of a small amount of regulation. About time. Deregulation led to unregulation in this market and we all know what too much power does.

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