personal finance

Scottish Power caused me distress after my father’s death

I am contacting you in desperation about the serious problems I am having dealing with Scottish Power after the death of my father last year.

When I notified it of AJ’s death back in September it closed his account and promised a cheque for his credit balance would be posted to me.

This eventually arrived in November but was made payable to “Miss AJ”. My father’s bank accounts are frozen and he was never a “Miss”, so I requested a replacement made payable to me and sent to my address (I live more than five hours drive from my dad’s flat).

I was promised a new cheque would be issued, which it eventually was, but again it was made payable to “Miss AJ” and sent to his address!

When I closed his account, a new one had been set up called “executors of AJ”, with me as the named contact. However, even though the company knew he had died, I received emails addressed to “Dear AJ” which I found very upsetting.

The farce continued when it sent a £127 refund cheque for the executors account, which was double the amount owed.

However, as it was made payable to “executors of AJ”, and there is no bank account with that name, it was useless.

It then sent payment demands for the overpayment, even though I had not been able to pay the cheque into a bank account.

Eventually, after being threatened with debt collection and credit default notices, I paid the amount it claimed was due, so they now owe me more money.

It has also since emerged that the executors’ account was closed the day after I opened it, and another account set up in my name, at his address, with bills based on estimated usage sent to the unoccupied flat.

I only discovered this when I started to get payment demands, including texts from debt collectors. However, when I supplied the meter readings the account was £71 in credit. I have lost count of the hours I have spent writing emails, on the phone and writing up notes in an attempt to keep track of progress with the different accounts.

I raised a complaint in November last year and in January I asked for it to be escalated. But I am getting nowhere.

On the basis of the statements and correspondence, Scottish Power still owes my family about £365 and I feel that some acknowledgment of its failings is warranted given the impact on me after the loss of my father.

MJ, Monyash

The ineptitude displayed by Scottish Power in handling the closure of your late father’s account at times borders on parody.

To send cheques to your father’s female alter ego not once, but twice, as well as sending emails addressed to him, is distressing.

But to then chase you for money that you do not owe is shocking.

The good news, however, is that with our help this sorry saga is now finally over.

Scottish Power says: “We’re very sorry for the distress and frustration MJ experienced, and the unacceptable delays in resolving this for him at such a difficult time. This is not the standard of customer service we aim to provide.”

It continues: “We cancelled all previous cheques and sent him cheques issued in his name and to his address, covering the final credit balance owed.

“We refunded the energy bill support payments he was entitled to for his late father’s property, and remained in touch to ensure the cheques were received and cashed before closing the accounts concerned.

“We then agreed and issued a goodwill payment in recognition of the distress caused.”

After some wrangling it increased its compensation offer to £500, which your family has accepted.

You are glad it is finally all over but feel that by repeating mistakes, such as issuing useless cheques to “Miss AJ”, it demonstrated considerable incompetence and insensitivity.

It made you glad to receive an apology and a level of compensation that you think begins to reflect the seriousness of its failures in this case.

To you, it seemed that Scottish Power’s procedures and systems for dealing with the death of a customer had been designed with a level of incompetence comparable to Basil Fawlty.

The hope here is that by highlighting your experience, other people dealing with the loss of a loved one will have a better experience.

Let’s hope so.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions


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