Energy supplier to wipe debts after payment glitch left customers with shock bills

An energy supplier is wiping out debt for hundreds of customers after a smart meter glitch left them with shock bills of up to £700.

Boost Power customers were horrified to receive emails and letters asking them for large sums of money after the were undercharged through no fault of their own when a ‘technical issue’ meant that their smart meters did not record the new prices when energy costs rose in October last year.

The supplier, which is closing later this year, apologised for the error. Vulnerable customers and those who already had an existing debt of more than £500 with Boost had already had the debt waived, but customers with less than £500 in debt were originally expected to repay what they owe. However the supplier has now confirmed that it will remove all of the debts caused by the prepayment meter glitch to all customers affected, according to The Sun.

Read more: British Gas to stop using debt agents to force fit prepay meters

Ovo Energy, the owner of Boost Power, said customers affected by the glitch won’t need to do anything and Boost will be in touch next week to confirm that any debt applied will be wiped from their accounts.

Prepayment meters – which customers top up using a key, card or app for energy they use, rather than being billed later on – are often installed in low-income households. Dozens of shocked customers, many of who struggle to pay for their energy amid the cost of living crisis – rushed to social media after receiving the demands, saying they were unable to find the extra money to pay for the unexpected bill.

Prepayment meter
Prepayment meters are often installed in low-income households

One customer on a Facebook page called Boost Energy UK – Failing it’s customers – what to do next said: “Just had an email from Boost stating that my gas meter didn’t update the price increase correctly in October. They now say I owe them £193.39, this is with it reduced by 10% for the mistake. Who should I contact regarding this I don’t see why I should have to pay for their mistake as I have a smart meter installed so should update automatically.” while a member of Energy Support And Advice UK (Community), asked: “Can Boost even do this? It’s not my mum’s fault – thought they was meant to be smart,”

Boost – which supplies energy to 200,000 UK households – is the pay-as-you go arm of Ovo Energy, the UK’s fourth largest domestic energy supplier. Boost Energy describes itself as ‘The Pay-As-You-Go Expert’ on its website and states: “We’ve made it our mission to make PAYG energy fit around your life – not the other way around.” Back-billing rules set out by the energy regulator Ofgem state that suppliers can charge households for gas or electricity used less than 12 months ago if they have not been correctly billed for it, but Ovo’s decision to wipe the debts applied to Boost customers affected by the glitch has been made voluntarily by the supplier.

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Last month, Boost announced it will wind down its business within months and all customers will be automatically moved over to Ovo Energy later this year. Ovo Energy started communicating with affected customers this month. Boost’s customers do not need to do anything as their accounts will be migrated over to Ovo Energy automatically.

Ovo Energy acquired Spark Energy in 2018 and the domestic arm of SSE in 2020, which catapulted the brand to become one of the so-called Big Six energy suppliers in the UK. It now supplies 4.5million households with gas and electricity across the UK.

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