Ex-Iresa & Extra Energy customers contacted by debt collectors – but many say they don't owe cash
Thousands of former customers of failed energy providers Iresa and Extra Energy have been told they'll be contacted by debt collectors – but many dispute the amount they've been told they owe.
Over the last few weeks around 2,000 customers who left Iresa before it went into administration in July have been told by administrator Deloitte that they owe money, and that a company called Corporate Debt Solutions (CDS) has been appointed to collect it.
Three hundred of those customers have written back to Deloitte to dispute the letters, and some say they have now received letters of apology.
Separately, a number of former Extra Energy customers were told by its administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that they owed cash and others who claim they were never even customers of the firm have also been chased.
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'I'm incensed to have received such a letter'
Former Iresa customer Claire Smith was one of those who was told she owed cash.
She switched her energy supplier from Iresa to Tonik Energy in August 2017 – nearly a year before Iresa went bust. She says she was in credit at the time, and had to battle for several months to get a refund. But she was contacted by Deloitte in January and told she owed over £500.
She said: "Although I'm incensed to have received such a letter and waste my time writing them a reply, my main concern is that there are undoubtedly other ex-customers receiving similar letters.
"Some of whom may be much more vulnerable than myself, and who will quite possibly be caused serious anxiety and/or even try to pay said amounts."
She received the letter below after complaining:
A number of former Extra Energy customers have told us similar stories.
One said: "I cleared my final bill from Extra Energy in 2016, paying by bank transfer, and didn't receive anything further until two recent letters explaining there is an outstanding payment to make and that my case will be passed to debt recovery if I don't respond within seven days."
If you get one of the letters from Deloitte, DON'T ignore it, as some who are receiving the letter do owe cash.
Deloitte says that queries regarding the letters should be directed to CDS, which can be contacted by:
- Phone on 0800 3688 637.
- Email on email@example.com.
Deloitte says that if you dispute the balance you're told you owe, then your case will reinvestigated, so it may be useful to have evidence to hand showing you don't owe the debt. This could include old letters from Iresa or bank statements showing you how much you have paid.
It has also confirmed that credit files won't be marked as a result of this process.
Check if the back-billing ban applies before you pay
It's worth noting that under regulator Ofgem's rules, if your energy supplier is at fault, it cannot seek additional payment for unbilled energy used more than 12 months prior to the error being detected and a correct bill being issued. Each such 'back-billing' case is looked at on its own merits, but for full info on how these rules work, see Ofgem's website.
An Ofgem spokesperson said: "We would expect an administrator of a failed supplier to comply with this rule. If an administrator were to act unfairly towards customers, we would consider what regulatory action would be available to us."
For more on how you can challenge incorrect bills, see our Energy Mis-billing guide.
What do the administrators say?
A Deloitte spokesperson said: "The administrators instructed CDS to support in collecting the outstanding balances and dealing with any customer queries.
"Where customers have disputed the outstanding balance set out in the letter they have received from the administrators, reasonable steps are being taken by the administrators and CDS to ensure that this is investigated without delay. Any queries should be directed to CDS. Customer credit files will not be marked as a result of this process."
A spokesperson for PwC said: "We have been made aware of a limited number of instances where people have already paid or dispute the outstanding amount. We are urgently investigating and resolving these cases, and apologise to those customers for any confusion or concern that may have been caused."
MoneySavingExpert.com has also contacted CDS for comment and will update this story if we hear back.