ENERGY giants EDF left a partially sighted pensioner cold and in the dark after turning off her power for two full days on some of the coldest days of the year so far.
Agnes Taylor, 73, lost all power to her home first thing last Wednesday. With the help of her brother Sam, she was able to contact EDF who said they would send out an engineer within the next hour or so. No-one turned up and she was left cold and hungry all day.
‘I couldn’t even have a hot drink,’ she said. ‘I rely totally on electricity for cooking and heating and the house was so cold. All I could do was keep walking from room to room to stay as warm as possible.
‘It was a very long day and bitterly cold. Eventually the only way to stay warm was to go to bed and lay there.
‘All the time I was more worried about my dog Tia. She is 11 and unwell, I’ve been so concerned about her health – more than mine!’
Agnes, from Kingsteignton, is fiercely independent and didn’t want to burden her neighbours, but as the day wore on she became so distressed she called the Mid-Devon Advertiser for help.
‘It’s so hard to speak to anyone,’ she said tearfully. ‘Years ago you used to be able to go to the SWEB office in town if you had a problem and talk to a real person!’
This paper called the EDF helpline and was kept on hold for 40 minutes before an operator picked up. When they were told the reason for the call the operator hung up.
After eight hours without electricity her power was switched on remotely.
‘My brother came around and we never saw an engineer.
‘I was assured there had been a mix-up with my payments. I had been paying by direct debit, but unbeknown to me, EDF had stopped them. I wasn’t aware of this as I find it difficult to read small print, I had detached retinas and have no sight in one eye and only 20 per cent vision in the other. So I couldn’t read my bank statements.’
In July, when Agnes received a final demand in estimated bill from EDF for some £1,600 she finally realised something was amiss and went to Citizen’s Advice in Newton Abbot.
‘They helped quash the bill and a new payment method was set up,’ she said. ‘I was paying in £150 month. The most recent payment was a week before, and I know I was still in credit when the power was switched off – I asked a neighbour to look at the meter, but EDF are saying there was nothing on the meter.’
After the power was restored on that Wednesday evening Agnes though it was all settled, however, the power was switched off again on Friday morning and once again after several attempts, contact was made with EDF, who turned the power back on at the end of the day.
Agnes said: ‘This has played havoc with my health. I am diabetic and couldn’t have anything warm to eat or drink on either day.
‘What’s more I had decided to spoil myself for once, and used some of my cost of living allowance to buy some nice food for Christmas. With the freezer being off, all that has now been ruined.’
Agnes said: ‘EDF have apologised and admitted there has been a mistake and asked me what it would take for me to drop a complaint. They have offered me just £250, which is an insult.
‘They have shown they have no consideration for pensioners – or people with disabilities.’
The Mid-Devon Advertiser contacted EDF for a comment, but none was forthcoming at the time of going to press.