A Bangor woman has spoken out about her frustration at missing out on the £600 energy support payment due to complications caused by moving house.
Charlotte Clarke moved to a new house on 21 December where SSE had been the provider but she decided to stick with her own energy provider, Power NI, as she believed to would be the most hassle-free option.
"I contacted Power NI on 20 December first to say I was moving as they were the providers on my then-current house," she said.
Read more: Power NI £600 vouchers to be reissued after cancellations for some customers
"So I was told to ring back when I'd moved and I rang back on 23 December, I changed everything over to keep with the same supplier as they had all my details, direct debits and all that.
"I didn't think anything of it and in January and when everything started coming out about the vouchers, I had an alert on my app saying that my direct debit of £600 would go in in the next seven days."
However, after two weeks, there was no sign of the energy payment in any of Charlotte's statements or accounts, so she rang Power NI.
"When I called them, they said to me that the switch didn't happen until 4 January and therefore the old suppliers, which was SSE on the house that I bought, were responsible for the vouchers because they were the current electricity providers," she said.
"They said they were responsible for the vouchers because as of 2 January, they would still have had that house on their list."
What followed was Charlotte having to ring the two providers constantly to try and clear up who was in charge of the payment and who she needed to speak to.
Eventually, she was directed to ring Northern Ireland Electricity to see who was the supplier for her new house and when the switchover happened.
"When I rang Northern Ireland Electricity they told me the switchover to power NI happened on 29 December, that Power NI was the electric supplier for my house," she said.
"And Power NI had billed me from 29 December, so if the switch didn't happen until 4 January, why would I be billed from 29 December?".
The Bangor mum said she was at her wits end trying to get access to a payment that was supposed to act as a source of help, rather than add further stress to families.
"I had read that there were problems as well with people getting switched over to new addresses and getting the payments.
"I have two kids and when we moved into this house, the boiler wasn't working properly.
"So we've forked out near £3,000 a couple of weeks ago to even heat the house.
"They've got me now where I actually feel that I'm begging for money, I sat in the house and cried on Tuesday night from trying to get this sorted.
"It's not my fault, but no-one is taking responsibility, I just feel like I've nobody to help me."
She added that she has had to send through multiple documents to Power NI, including her mortgage confirmation statement and written summaries of her conversation with NIE just to try and move her case forward.
"Everybody just keeps palming me off and I feel Power NI are palming me off too, saying they're not responsible but to me they are responsible because they're my supplier," she said.
"If they're billing me from a date but saying the switch wasn't done until five or six days after that, then how can they be billing me, it's contradictory?".
Power NI said it would follow the procedures established for dealing with such cases.
“Whilst we can’t go into detail on individual customer cases, we are aware that this customer has contacted us today," a spokesperson said.
"The EBSS AFP NI scheme guidance from BEIS anticipated exceptions for Changes of Supplier and it sets out procedures for suppliers to follow so that eligible customers can still receive their voucher.
"In the case where a customer has completed a Change of Supplier for a property over the UK Government’s cut-off date, there is a process to follow which we have initiated, and we’ll investigate with NIEN and SSE and resolve with the customer."
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