Home Money My home electric car charger has NEVER worked, what should I do? TONY HETHERINGTON replies

My home electric car charger has NEVER worked, what should I do? TONY HETHERINGTON replies

by Elijah
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Electric shock: Disputes can arise over EV cars and equipment, such as chargers

Tony Hetherington is the Financial Mail on Sunday’s top researcher, taking on readers’ corners, uncovering the truth that lies behind closed doors and delivering victories for those left out of pocket. Below you can read how you can contact him.

TT writes: Eon Drive installed an electric vehicle (EV) wall charger at my home last year, but it never worked.

Despite offering a warranty, Eon has refused to visit my property to investigate or resolve the problem.

Tony Hetherington replies: Eon told you the problem was ‘voltage fluctuations’ in the electricity supply to your home, so you had it monitored by Energy North West. When it turned out that nothing was wrong, you contacted Utilities Alternative Dispute Resolution – a kind of recognized ombudsman that mediates problems with EV equipment.

The ADR jury ruled that Eon must repair or remove the charger within 28 days. This didn’t happen and you ended up selling your electric car.

Electric shock: Disputes can arise over EV cars and equipment, such as chargers

Electric shock: Disputes can arise over EV cars and equipment, such as chargers

However, Eon has informed me that it does not agree with ADR and the energy monitor. It is maintained that there was a voltage spike, causing the charger to isolate itself for safety reasons.

Eon failed to challenge the ADR ruling due to ‘internal supervision’. There was no pre-payment for the charger installation so no refund was due, but Eon offered £100 as a gesture of goodwill.

You disagreed with Eon’s reasoning. You told me that the charger was simply dead, and when Eon personnel recently arrived to remove it, they could not turn it on.

But what quickly became central to this entire dispute was the role of utility ADR.

It says: ‘Consumers are not bound by our recommendations or decisions unless you choose to accept our decision. In that case it becomes legally binding for the organization your complaint is about.’ If this is so, why has Utilities ADR not implemented its decision last November?

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Utilities ADR and similar schemes are administered by Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited (CDRL), a government-approved and company-paid complaints handling service.

But contacting the company to ask a question about its enforcement powers was anything but easy.

The website did not provide an email address. It bans anyone from visiting its offices in Milton Keynes. And when I first checked, the website warned that the phone system was not being monitored ‘due to the current Covid 19 issues’!

I thought I had gotten lucky when I saw that CDRL’s website was inviting press to click on a link for contact information. I clicked and the response came ‘Oops! That page cannot be found.’ There was a link to ‘ADR officers’ so I tried that but none were mentioned.

No wonder reviews on Trustpilot rate CDRL as ‘poor’.

Thanks to Trading Standards I finally found a CDRL email address and contacted CDRL boss John Facenfield. He admitted that “we have no authority to take punitive action or enforce legal remedies” against companies that join CDRL, adding that it was up to consumers to take legal action themselves.

Utilities’ ADR website was not working “properly,” he added. And he gave me a new email address, but when I tried, a message automatically came back saying, “We won’t respond to this email address.”

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For a consumer-facing organization, CDRL is the most consumer-unfriendly organization I have ever seen. It is inefficient and while it boasts that it can encourage a company to pay complainants up to £25,000, it blithely admits that companies can ignore it.

A final word from CDRL told me that companies that join the utility, retail, aviation and communications programs are “contractually obligated” to implement its decisions. What a shame then, that it shows no willingness to enforce those contracts.

Mentioned on an account that wasn’t ours

LH writes: I will send you copies of a reminder that we received from the collection agency LCS.

Our names are correct, but the address is wrong. The question relates to a Scottish Power account, but we have never had an account with Scottish Power.

Where do these people get our data from?

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Tony Hetherington replies: LCS stands for Legal Collection Services, but the real name of this Leeds-based company is 1st Locate (UK) Limited. The demand it makes is £51, for electricity supplied by Scottish Power in 2020. You had no intention of paying but were concerned about how your name was linked to any debts. With your permission, I have issued LCS a Subject Access Request – a legal notice demanding the production of personal data the company holds about you. LCS handed over the information it received from Scottish Power.

This showed that the invoice was intended for Flat 44 in a building near you. You live at house number 44 in the same zip code. And the original bill was simply addressed to ‘The Occupier’. In public registers you and your wife are listed as residents of number 44 in your street and that is how the mistake was made.

LCS has now closed its file.

If you believe you have been a victim of financial misconduct, please write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY or email tony.hetherington@mailonsunday.co.uk. Due to the large number of questions, personal answers cannot be given. Please only send copies of original documents, which unfortunately cannot be returned.

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