Thu, 2 Aug, 2018
Family's outrage after dementia-stricken grandmother hit with $4000 energy bills
A family has expressed their outrage after their grandmother was unwillingly signed up to an energy company and then hit with a $4000 bill.
Joan Ford, 86, lives at the View Hills Manor nursing home in Melbourne, where her residency fee covers all utilities.
Despite this, Joan received an electricity bill in June from 1st Energy that totalled $1,384, reported the ABC.
Joan’s daughter and son-in-law, Patricia and Mark Matthys, were outraged by the letter, which claimed the energy was supplied in May to the unit at her nursing home.
Mark said his mother-in-law was unable to recall what the bill was for.
Speaking to ABC Radio Melbourne, Mark said: “How on earth would it even be possible to make up an account for a person who doesn't actually have anything to pay for?”
The family contacted the energy provider and were told the error had been fixed.
However, Joan then received a second bill for more than $2584, with the provider claiming the energy had been supplied between June and the beginning of July.
The second bill was followed by two reminder notices and a phone call from a collection agency.
Mark revealed that his mother-in-law had been targeted through a phone call, and that the incident had caused her a lot of stress.
Victoria’s energy and water ombudsman, Cynthia Gebert, said she didn’t understand how the bill was calculated as nursing homes are generally not individually metered.
She recommended that vulnerable people join the do-not-call register to avoid sales calls.
The energy provider resolved the error and Joan was not required to pay the hefty amount.
A spokeswoman from 1st Energy said the company had apologised for the incident, which was caused by an administration error.
“Due to human error the matter was unfortunately not fully remedied when initially picked up. It has now been fully resolved,” she said.