Extraenergy sent a bill with more than double the direct debit value due to an incorrect meter reading. I phoned and it agreed to accept a new reading. This generated a new bill that was emailed. The new direct debit was lower than my original level. But the following month the company extracted the higher level. I contacted my bank and asked for this excess to be returned.
Not trusting Extraenergy, I cancelled the direct debit. Since then there have been numerous phone calls, each involving over half an hour’s wait. I have also posted letters and sent emails, but nothing happens.
The fact is that energy companies have customers at their mercy, which must explain some of the appalling levels of service described in these columns.
This means, though, that trying to take charge of a situation by cancelling a direct debit can lead to more trouble for the customer. In your case it triggered debt collection letters for which Extraenergy apologises.
It turns out that an industry estimated read was used rather than the one you had provided. I am told this was due to an internal issue, now resolved, which affected some customers.
You have now switched to another company.
• Jessica Gorst-Williams tackles consumer problems for Telegraph readers every week. To contact her, click here. If you want to ask a general money question, email [email protected] The best of the answers are included in our weekly newsletter