Greedy energy giants must not be allowed to exploit elderly

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From: Daniel Curtois, Crayke, York.

IT is little wonder the charity 
Age UK is predicting that some 24,000 pensioners will die from cold this winter when a culture of greed and institutional incompetence continues to pervade our ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers.

During a recent visit to my mother-in-law’s – a widowed pensioner living in a small end terrace – I discovered that npower had almost doubled her monthly direct debit payments (for electricity) to a staggering £170. Not only this, but they had also demanded a payment of £500 to cover alleged arrears, which my mother-in-law had no option but to pay with a credit card.

I contacted npower in early September hoping naively that common sense would prevail and they would rectify the situation.

However, after many phone calls and emails and over two hours waiting “on hold” in their telephone system, it wasn’t until mid November that npower finally admitted to overcharging my mother-in-law by a staggering £960. To add insult to injury, they are now making her wait ten working days to receive her refund.

It is an utter disgrace that npower feels it is acceptable to take nearly two weeks to refund a pensioner nearly £1,000 that should never have been taken in the first place. It is an utter disgrace that npower has no systems in place to stop this happening to vulnerable groups. And it is an utter disgrace that the one customer service adviser who was good enough to give me his email address and direct dial telephone number is now being made redundant as part of the firm’s latest cost cutting exercise that will see the loss of 1,460 jobs in the UK.

There must be many pensioners who, like my mother-in-law, simply pay whatever is demanded of them from these greedy energy giants that appear to be answerable to no one.

We cannot continue to let these companies exploit the elderly and vulnerable in their never-ending pursuit for bigger profits and I would urge anyone who agrees to vote with their feet and find a better deal from one of the many small energy firms now gaining a foothold in the market.

From: Hilary Andrews, Nursery Lane, Leeds.

EVERY time a family is interviewed on TV about the impact of rising energy prices they are very scantily dressed and there are large televisions, laptops and expensive phones in the background.

Pensioners, in general, manage their economy by “cutting their coats according to their cloth”. I am such a one.

I have thermal underwear and warm jumpers, a simple mobile phone (no landline), read the Yorkshire Post every day at the library where I also use the computer, borrow books and attend the monthly book club.

I have joined a gym for £17.95p a month where I exercise to keep my heart, weight and blood pressure in good shape and have a hot shower every day.

I take my own coffee and powdered milk to enjoy a rest and warmth after my work out.

For entertainment, I go the the Leeds Light Senior Screening and to Heydays at the West Yorkshire Playhouse every Wednesday 
for play reading and drama classes.

This cost £49 a year for these lessons (other activities are available). Here there is company and, at 74, I am one of the younger members.

For food I have a good breakfast of porridge, soup and a sandwich for lunch and a home cooked meal in the evening. I cook 
warm stews with plenty of vegetables and make large amounts divided into single portions and frozen.

All this on my pension and with the help of my bus pass.

The younger generation seem to feel the world (or rather the Government) owes them a lifestyle they they wish for themselves. It doesn’t!