I’m trapped on a costly energy tariff and caring for a sick child

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We moved into our newly built house in June and immediately contacted Sainsbury’s Energy because I wanted to switch our gas and electricity. We were told the process would be completed within 21 days. The electricity supply was successfully switched, but not the gas. Sainsbury’s told me to contact my existing gas supplier, Ecotricity, and ask it to update my meter details on the national database.

Ecotricity said it had failed to set up an account for my new address and I would have to wait seven days while it did so. A week later, I again asked Sainsbury’s to take over the supply and, again, had to chase when it didn’t happen. I was then told the meter details did not match the property and discovered Ecotricity had registered my address incorrectly. Five months have passed and I’m stuck on a rate that’s twice as much as the Sainsbury’s one. We can’t afford it.

In March, days after we had offered on our new house, our young son was diagnosed with lymphoma and our income has dropped as we have stopped work to care for him. His condition is now terminal and he has been sent home from hospital since the treatments no longer work and words can’t describe the pain. I looked into contacting the Energy Ombudsman but that involves lodging formal complaints with both companies then waiting for eight weeks, time I don’t have.
NK, Batley, West Yorkshire

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Corporate incompetence is frustrating at the best of times. In your situation the extra burden is incalculable. Both, it seems, have let you down. Ecotricity admits it had failed to register the gas meter on the national database when your house was completed, and then delayed correcting the mistake. That was finally resolved at the beginning of October, after which “systems errors” on the part of Sainsbury’s Energy prevented the transfer.

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Both have made a goodwill gesture, and the supply was finally transferred earlier this month, but only after I got involved. Your ordeal also shows the absurdity of the rule that requires customers to wait eight weeks before qualifying for ombudsman services. The timescale causes significant hardship for some customers trapped in costly predicaments and should be slashed.

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