herald

Friday 15 December 2017

My shock as I got a €10k ESB bill - Dad

A DUBLIN man who was hit with a staggering €10,000 ESB bill claims his family will be "crippled" if they are forced to cough up.

John Preston (64), from Tallaght, today told of his "absolute horror" at being slapped with the extraordinary 15-year bill by the energy company.

The father-of-two claims that he paid for his electricity through a token meter in his home, which he says he "always topped up".

However the ESB contacted Mr Preston in June 2010 to inform him that he had not settled his account in almost 15 years - running up a bill of over €10,000.

The ESB offered to slash 20pc off the overall bill, however Mr Preston instead referred the dispute to the Commission of Energy Regulation (CER).

John has two meters in his home - a credit meter and a token meter. The former records the level of electricity consumed, while the token meter is used to pay off his bill by inserting purchased cards.

It was found that the token meter - which is designed to cut the electricity supply when the credit runs out - was not functioning properly.

Meter

John told the Herald that he was never told in 15 years that the token meter was faulty.

"I was not scamming the ESB as, if I was, surely my electricity supply would have been cut?

"Their staff carried out a number of checks on my meters and never found that the token meter was faulty. I can't pay this bill. It'll cripple us. We're distraught over it all."

Although John always believed his account was in balance, he was criticised by the CER for not responding bills posted to him which showed a debt was accumulating.

The ESB, however, was also critcised by the CER for failing to communicate with Mr Preston over his debts, saying they should have made contact with him at an earlier stage.

The CER said it had considered the actions of Electric Ireland to be "inappropriate."

The CER has proposed John should be given a 30pc discount off the bill, with an option of a long-term payment plan.

A spokesperson for the ESB told the Herald the company is "aware of the incident" but he declined to comment further.

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