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Power company cuts off Dunnet pensioner's electricity supply after issuing hugely inflated bill of 10 times amount used – Groat steps in to resolve issue


By David G Scott

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Donald Clark outside his garage in Watten that was broken into and had its power supply disconnected. Picture: DGS
Donald Clark outside his garage in Watten that was broken into and had its power supply disconnected. Picture: DGS

A 90-year-old Dunnet man had his property entered and his electricity supply turned off after refusing to pay a bill that was 10 times the amount actually used.

The Groat reported on the issues between pensioner Donald Clark and Maxen Power in November last year and a company spokesperson agreed at that time the figure was wrong and promised a rectified bill would be sent out.

The bill never came, however, and last month the company's agent, Blackthorne Utilities Ltd, obtained a court warrant to enter Mr Clark's property and disconnect his meter.

"They obtained the warrant for entry based on completely false information. There is a totally inflated figure of the power consumed and it's something they were aware of," said Mr Clark.

The meter reading is 34890 but Maxen Power is basing Mr Clark's bill on a reading of 39196 – a difference of 4306 units. This image, with embedded date and time information, was sent to Maxen Power to prove they had made a mistake. Picture: DGS
The meter reading is 34890 but Maxen Power is basing Mr Clark's bill on a reading of 39196 – a difference of 4306 units. This image, with embedded date and time information, was sent to Maxen Power to prove they had made a mistake. Picture: DGS

The property concerned is a garage in Watten that contains his valuable collection of vintage cars and motorcycles – some of which are very rare and date back over 100 years. When the Groat visited recently, the meter reading was 34890 but Maxen Power is basing Mr Clark's bill on a reading of 39196 – a difference of 4306 units.

Despite numerous attempts by Mr Clark to have the correct reading accepted and a rectified bill sent out, the company refused to budge on the matter and maintained its stance – even when it received dated photographs showing the correct reading.

The letter sent to Mr Clark from Blackthorne Utilities Ltd, an agent working on behalf of Maxen Power, saying the company was obtaining a court warrant to 'force entry' to his property and disconnect the electricity supply. Picture: DGS
The letter sent to Mr Clark from Blackthorne Utilities Ltd, an agent working on behalf of Maxen Power, saying the company was obtaining a court warrant to 'force entry' to his property and disconnect the electricity supply. Picture: DGS
Mr Clark's garage was broken into by Maxen Power's agent and a new lock was fitted along with a key safe containing the new key. Picture: DGS
Mr Clark's garage was broken into by Maxen Power's agent and a new lock was fitted along with a key safe containing the new key. Picture: DGS
Donald Clark said the issue caused him great distress. Picture: DGS
Donald Clark said the issue caused him great distress. Picture: DGS

Mr Clark said: "They sent me a letter in December [2021] saying they were going to go to Aberdeen court to gain access to the premises on January 21. They came in around February 9 and disconnected the supply. They said that I owed £5255.71 plus all charges."

The total amount, with various legal and administration costs of £2800 added in, came to £8055.71. Mr Clark said the proper figure should be around £500 to £600 – less than a tenth of the amount demanded by Maxen Power.

The electricity company's media contact, named "Sam," had reassured the Groat in November that Maxen Power had made an "honest mistake" and the situation would be rectified as soon as possible. Despite this reassurance and the subsequent newspaper article, the company soon went back to square one and continued to send Mr Clark hugely inflated bills and threaten him with court action if the account was not settled.

Mr Clark needs to use a torch to look around his garage as the power supply is disconnected. He showed the meter with the reading it is stuck at since being 'de-energised' on February 9. Picture: DGS
Mr Clark needs to use a torch to look around his garage as the power supply is disconnected. He showed the meter with the reading it is stuck at since being 'de-energised' on February 9. Picture: DGS
Card left by Energy Assets which de-energised Mr Clark's meter on behalf of Maxen Power. Picture: DGS
Card left by Energy Assets which de-energised Mr Clark's meter on behalf of Maxen Power. Picture: DGS
Stickers placed in the electrical supply box warning it is an offence to tamper with them. Picture: DGS
Stickers placed in the electrical supply box warning it is an offence to tamper with them. Picture: DGS

Mr Clark showed evidence that he had contacted Maxen Power by email on multiple occasions throughout last year and into 2022 but to no avail. Last month's forced entry by Blackthorne Utilities was the last straw for the Dunnet pensioner and he contacted the Groat once again.

We spoke to the same Maxen Power media contact, Sam, and after a long telephone conversation followed up by email correspondence showing various pieces of evidence to back Mr Clark's position, she once again accepted there had been a "clerical error".

The power supply at the garage showing areas where Maxen Power's agent has de-energised it. Picture: DGS
The power supply at the garage showing areas where Maxen Power's agent has de-energised it. Picture: DGS

"Because of the Covid we lost staff and those emails that were sent from Mr Clark," she conceded. "We are very sorry for this and we have now contacted Mr Clark to resolve the matter. His power will be put back on now and we have now accepted payment for the correct amount. The person who dealt with his account is no longer with us and this led to a communication gap.

"I can assure you that we have apologised to Mr Clark but I told him it happened under circumstances that were out of our control due to Covid. I hope that you have a good impression of Maxen Power now."

Mr Clark said he was once again delighted over the newspaper's intervention and had accepted the apology from Sam. "I have just settled with them the correct bill to date, much thanks to your credit," he told the paper.

Mr Clark showed printed evidence of numerous emails sent to Maxen Power that showed the company showing that it was aware of the updated meter reading but somehow failed to rectify its records. Picture: DGS
Mr Clark showed printed evidence of numerous emails sent to Maxen Power that showed the company showing that it was aware of the updated meter reading but somehow failed to rectify its records. Picture: DGS

"She apologised that none of the emails I sent had been registered and entered onto their system. They're coming to reconnect my power as well."

The amount that Mr Clark paid Maxen Power as the revised amount is £623.21 – a huge difference from the £8055.71 previously demanded. He says that he will change his supplier to a "more reputable company" by the end of this year.

Though Maxen Power has garnered a 4.6 rating on TrustPilot, a series of negative reviews have been posted over the last few months including one from Ishtiaq Sohail who runs a halal food shop called Shafi Continental in Glasgow.

Mr Sohail wrote: "Do not trust the 5 star reviews. It is painfully obvious they make fake accounts. Convenient that all the 5 star reviewers have only ever left 1 review on Trustpilot and that happens to be for Maxen."

Mr Clark is now satisfied that the matter is now closed after the paper got involved. Picture: DGS
Mr Clark is now satisfied that the matter is now closed after the paper got involved. Picture: DGS

We talked with Mr Sohail, who claims that his father was duped into signing up for the power company after an agent had contacted the business last year claiming they could dramatically cut his bills. Instead, the business was hit with a hugely inflated bill of over £18,000 for five months supply and, after he disputed it, agents turn up at the premises demanding a £12,000 payment immediately.

Mr Sohail said: "We thought the people who turned up were sheriff officers but they refused to show a court order. They started stripping down the walls so we panicked and quickly arranged the payment with a bank transfer. We should have gone to the police."

Related article:

Groat steps in after 90-year-old Dunnet man is 'harassed' by power company over huge bill


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