A WOMAN from Prestatyn has told of the relief she felt after her energy provider resolved an issue regarding debts she insisted were false but was told she must pay nonetheless.

Samantha Fredericks, 31, said her fight to have outstanding bills erased from her account proved an “absolute nightmare” since the issue first arose last October.

Living with her son, Mason, who is nine and registered disabled, Samantha said Bulb Energy, the company of which she has been a customer for “two to three years”, caused her “distress” in not rectifying the matter.

After being contacted by the Journal last week, Octopus Energy, who acquired Bulb last December, cleared the remaining £126 of debt on her account last week.

Problems began, she said, when she noticed her gas meter appeared not to be working properly.


Dyserth woman pleads for help from energy provider following loss of husband

“It was in ‘backwards mode’, always stating that I was in ‘emergency credit’ when, in fact, there was credit on the meter,” Samantha said.

“Each time I complained, either I was ignored, or Bulb were closed. My phone calls were always disconnected. No action was taken.

“Bulb kept saying that I wasn't topping up enough, which was why I was always in emergency credit, which wasn’t true.”

Samantha also sought the help of Energy Ombudsman and her MP, James Davies, having switched to Bulb Energy voluntarily at the Prestatyn home she has lived at for seven years.

Following Energy Ombudsman’s intervention, a potential resolution was put in place, but Samantha said this was not carried out by Bulb.

She said she later received compensation from Bulb as a goodwill gesture, but that supposedly false debt on her gas meter remained.

When she asked Bulb why she owed this money, she said she was told it was due to “friendly credit” – whereby customers can keep using electricity, even after using up credit, on evenings, weekends or bank holidays.

NEWSLETTER: Get the latest stories from the Rhyl, Prestatyn and Abergele area sent straight to your inbox by signing up here.

Samantha said: “There was £426 of debt, but I managed to get £300 of it removed.

“I had a meter exchange on January 12, but the man who did it said there was no point in it, because as soon as I place the card into the meter, it will do the exact same thing.

“Bulb also sent me to Debt Collection for the debt that shouldn't even been there, so it then affected my credit rating.”

The stress of the matter exacerbated her pre-existing mental health issues and diminished the care she can provide her son with, Samantha added.

She said: “This has had a massive impact on my anxiety and depression. It’s been an absolute nightmare.

“I’ve got a disabled son who needs my care 24/7; I can’t spend hours away from him on the phone, being disconnected, lied to, promised phone calls back which don’t happen.

“I feel relief, but I still fear that they will come back at me again with something, even if there’s nothing to come back at me for.

“The way I’ve been treated since October is disgusting. It’s taken it out of me. If they’ve done it to me, I wonder how many more people they’ve done it to.”

Since acquiring Bulb, Octopus has since being migrating their customers – albeit not yet Samantha, she said – to its own systems.

Samantha said, though, that she is now in the process of looking to switch provider altogether to British Gas.

In response to Samantha’s comments, Octopus apologised for the inconvenience she has suffered.

A spokesperson for Octopus said: “We’re sorry to hear about the experience Ms Fredericks had with Bulb.

“We’ve now moved over 97 per cent of Bulb customers’ accounts to Octopus, but there are a few outstanding accounts that are a bit more complicated, like Ms Fredericks, which have not yet been transferred across, so we sadly hadn’t picked up this issue yet.

“We’ve looked into this case and can appreciate there was some confusion here between Bulb and Ms Fredericks.

“We’ve spoken to Ms Fredericks to explain what happened and wiped all the debt on her account so she’s moving forward on a clean slate - and she’s happy with the resolution.

“She’s on our PSR register and we’ve ensured she’s been receiving other support available, for example like the Government’s Warm Home Discount.

“We are also offering to send a free electric blanket and one of our Energy Helpers to her home to identify ways to cut down bills further through personalised advice.

“We know just how hard the cost of living crisis is for people - and we’re doing everything we possibly can to help.

“Our ‘Octo Assist’ financial hardship fund has helped over 60,000 customers already and we also provide tailored account support like payment plans or payment holidays to customers who are struggling to pay their bills.

“We are glad we were able to help Ms Fredericks on this occasion and we will continue to stay in touch to make sure she gets all the support she needs from us.”

An Energy Ombudsman spokesperson added: “It’s always disappointing when a supplier fails to implement our proposed resolution and, in this case, that the consumer experienced further problems.

"Whilst in most cases the resolutions we’ve required are implemented on time, we’re aware that sometimes consumers are having to wait too long.

"We’re working with suppliers and Ofgem to improve this.

"We’re pleased to hear that Bulb has now resolved the complaint to Ms Fredericks’ satisfaction.”