Now energy bully boys threaten to break down your door to read meter
Britain’s biggest energy companies are sending letters and emails to customers threatening to break down their front doors to inspect their gas meters.
Hundreds of thousands of consumers have received ‘bullying’ notes from power providers who are trying to gain access to their homes.
One was told in an email by their supplier, the German-owned utility giant Npower: ‘We can enter your home even if you aren’t there, and if necessary by force.’
Legal right: Hundreds of thousands of consumers have received ‘bullying’ notes from suppliers
The customer was also warned they could be forced to pay legal costs if Npower had to obtain a court warrant to enter their property.
Every major energy supplier – including British Gas, E.ON, EDF, Southern Electric and Scottish Power – has also admitted sending similar notes over the last year.
It is believed more than half a million letters have been sent out to households across the country.
In the past 12 months, Npower alone has sent out 140,000 copies of the same threatening letter.
Frankie Cookney, a 28-year-old writer, said she was ‘horrified’ after being contacted by the firm demanding access to her home for a biennial inspection of her gas meter.
Under the heading ‘What we’ll do if you don’t let us inspect your meter,’ the letter said: ‘If we’re granted a warrant of entry, we’ll visit your home to gain access to our meter, even if you aren’t there and if necessary by force.
‘We’ve tried several times to make arrangements to inspect your gas meter, but you haven’t contacted us or given us access to your meter.’
However, Miss Cookney said Npower had only contacted her once – less than a week earlier.
She added: ‘All my bills are up-to-date so to get a letter like this was really scary.
‘Legal or not, to have someone threaten to break into your home when you’re not there is pretty distressing. It might be within their rights but it’s disgusting to use these kinds of scare tactics.
‘People are struggling to keep up with rising energy prices and few of us are thrilled with our provider so you’d think customer service would be at the top of their priorities.’
‘Pretty distressing’: Every major energy supplier has admitted sending similar notes over the past year
Nick Pickles, from civil liberties group Big Brother Watch, said: ‘Already in Britain thousands of public officials have the power to enter your home without a warrant, so this kind of bullying activity highlights how the law urgently needs strengthening to protect our rights about who can enter our homes and for what reason.’
Gillian Cooper, energy expert at Consumer Focus, said: ‘Your energy supplier is required to inspect your meter every two years for safety reasons, but they would be expected to contact you by phone, letter, or face to face a number of times if they are struggling to get access to your meter.
‘Obtaining a warrant of entry should be a last resort.’
Npower said: ‘Letters such as these are only sent when we have exhausted all efforts to arrange access.’