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Northern Powergrid’s bill error in Halifax could have cost it dearly

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In this week’s Gossage Gossip, our columnist discusses the recent bill error that impacted the residents of Halifax in West Yorkshire, with Northern Powergrid forced to trust its customers.

The venerable town of Halifax in West Yorkshire is entirely populated by scrupulously honest people. At least, that is what Northern Powergrid is fervently hoping.

Most unusually, the company had been seeking to reimburse customers who had been overpaying their fuel bills. They didn’t use BACS to do so, nor put the refund onto their customers’ credit cards. Instead they placed each of the requisite cheques into the post. 

It was only when one customer, a Mr Gareth Hughes of Halifax, contacted them that they realised that this old-fashioned approach might be presenting them with quite a problem.  Mr Hughes was querying why that morning’s post at his home had included a Northern Powergrid cheque, made out to him, for – wait for it – some £2,324,252,080,110. A bit more than the £110 he had anticipated.

Was there any explanation for this generosity? Subsequently, a distinctly red-faced spokesperson admitted they had investigated the matter and had established why this cheque was quite so enormous. The conclusion was, “A clerical error was caused by the electricity meter reference number being incorrectly quoted as the payment sum”. 

The company stated they were confident that they had now identified no less than 74 of their customers, each with a Halifax postcode, and each of whom had also been sent a compensation cheque with an incorrectly generous payment amount. Somewhat plaintively, the company has very publicly thanked all those who were “honest” about the error. And presumably is praying that every other customer is just as honest as Mr Hughes.

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