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Bulb energy’s billing errors plunged my family into penury

<span>Photograph: Tony Smith/Alamy</span>
Photograph: Tony Smith/Alamy

Bulb has left me without any money after debiting my account twice in four days for the same billing period. Because of its mistake, my account is overdrawn and I have no money to feed my four young children.

It’s already a struggle to pay the bills, which have doubled this year. I explained the situation, and Bulb said the funds would be returned with seven days and offered me £10 compensation.

As a result, my wife and children have had to go and stay with relatives in Birmingham, and I’ve had to borrow money to eat. I don’t get paid until the end of the month.
SS, Manchester

Bulb plunged you, and your family, into penury five days before Christmas after debiting £275.71 on 15 December, then helping itself to £218 four days later. Both supposedly covered your October/November fuel consumption. Your usual direct debit payments are £218 a month.


I asked Bulb to act urgently to reinstate your finances, and it refunded the money the same day. Its explanation was baffling. It told you that you did not have an “active payment schedule” between 22 November and 2 December 2022, and so the £275.71 was taken to clear the outstanding balance. When your direct debit mandate was reinstated, it erroneously triggered a second debit for the same period.

Meanwhile, Bulb tells me that you had cleared your balance to zero on 22 November, so how could £275.71 have accrued in the space of 10 days?

Because, according to Bulb, that zero balance, for reasons unclear, didn’t include your dues for October/November. The bill for that month was only issued four days after you had been assured you had settled your account in full. As there was no direct debit mandate in place, the debt grew.

And why wasn’t there a direct mandate? Because of a series of blunders by Bulb.

Last June, it tried to charge you twice for a month’s energy and blamed a system error. It advised you to cancel your direct debit mandate to prevent the second payment. The mandate was incorrectly reinstated by Bulb which, in October, confirmed that the payments for the last three months had not been collected.

You duly stumped up, and on 22 November Bulb acknowledged, in writing, that your account was clear and that the monthly direct debits would resume as normal.

However, due to yet another error, Bulb delayed the start of the new mandate, hence the 10-day lapse, then charged you twice. It’s now upped its goodwill offer to a miserly £50, which you are unhappy with.

Your next step would be to complain to the Energy Ombudsman. Bulb says: “We’re sorry for the trouble the customer encountered with his payments. The team has since been in touch to rectify the situation.”

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