back to article Cambridge woman in £90m 'leccy bill shocker

A Cambridge woman got a bit of a shock on Saturday morning when a bill from 'leccy outfit Npower landed on her doormat demanding an impressive £90,454,217, the Cambridge News reports. Alison Turner, 50, was surprised not only by the colossal total for juice, but also because she's on a pre-pay meter. She recounted: "I shouldn' …


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  1. Martin


    Having worked in the industry I am not surprised that the guy has no idea how the bill was sent out, because the spokes persons for these companys have ZERO idea about the running of the business.

    I'll tell you how it was sent, some numpty in a call/data centre some where would have clicked on the wrong button when arranging for the customers account to be transferred, noticed his error and not bothered noting the account so the cock-up couldn't be traced back to him/her!

    Mines the one that says; "Glad I'm outta that business!"

  2. Dominic Kua


    Watt do these companies think they're doing? Current-ly there's not enough punning in this article though. Joule get better ratings with more puns.

    (reasonably priced)Power to the people.

    Mine's the one with the label "Warning: Yield greater than three megapuns"

  3. Eden
    Black Helicopters

    I'm amazed...

    That the rozzers didn't kick the door down looking for the secret terrorist bunker complex/cannabis factory hidden beneath the house as clearly that explains the juice!.

  4. Jamie

    Give it 8-10 weeks

    In about that time she should receive another letter stating that they need the money now or they will contact the debt collectors to come around and take her belongings. May sound scary but these things do happen.

  5. Steve

    "We have systems to ensure these errors are not made."

    That is clearly a lie - it did happen so you do not have systems to ensure it doesn't. You may have a system that *attempts* to prevent these errors, but that is not the same thing.

    When I left Npower, I received a final bill about 3 months later and it took me almost another month to convince them that they might want to recalculate it. The reason? The meter reading they claimed to have taken was significantly higher than the meter showed when I received the bill. I had to demand a supervisor before I could get someone to admit that their readings meant I had spent the last quarter generating surplus energy.

    1 month later, a bill of about £150 had turned into a rebate of about £100.

  6. Ian Hallsworth

    A spokesman said: "We have systems to ensure these errors are not made

    Obvisly you dont

  7. Andy Betts

    Must've been a shock!

    I'd have said Ohm y god!

    But when they cancelled it it'd be a buzz.

    Watt? Coat? ok...

  8. Dangermouse

    I wish this would happen to me...

    I really do wish this sort of thing would happen to me, because I would love to just ignore the first letter, the second letter, the final demand, the final, final demand and then go to court just to see how far it would go before an actual intelligent human being actually looked at the unpaid amount and think to themselves "perhaps there might be a mistake here".

    Or, in this day and age, that may be asking too much.

  9. Stuart
    Paris Hilton


    she is creating an skeletal flight suit out of her domestic blast furnace to fight crime as iron lady?

    PH as she is as thick as liquid iron

  10. Andy Barber

    Ony 67 blast furneses

    As the bill was only for a month, she would only need 670 Blast Furnaces.

    Mines the one with the insulated rubber gloves in the pocket!

  11. ShaggyDoggy


    Npower are clearly suffering from ampered judgement.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    That's right...

    "It's lucky they didn't send this bill to an old age pensioner. Luckily, my daughter was with me when I opened the bill and told me not to worry about it"

    Because all OAP's are as thick as you and may actually think that you really do owe £90m.

  13. David Pollard

    End of their financial year?

    I wonder how this affects their profit and loss account?

  14. Lloyd

    Just told em to stick it

    What with them calculating that there are 7 months in a year and all (and overcharging me by £80 because they decided to change the rules), if any nPower customers out there don't know about the stitch up situation nPower have going on then do a quick Google search. Ofwat are currently (allegedly) investigating but nothing will be done as it's an old boys club with much scratching of backs going on.

  15. bluesxman


    To quote the receiver of the preposterous bill "It's lucky they didn't send this bill to an old age pensioner. Luckily, my daughter was with me when I opened the bill and told me not to worry about it" ... I'm a little concerned that, had her level headed daughter not been present to think on her behalf, that she might have taken the bill seriously and would've re-mortgaged her domicile forthwith to make the first payment.

  16. Dale


    Isn't this, or even 'leccy, on the Reg list of banned words along with lappy and mobi? Or shouldn't it be?

  17. caffeine addict Silver badge

    @Andy Betts

    Sir, I think you just won the intertubes...

  18. Pete Silver badge


    I'm glad the company did a VOLTe-face and cancelled the bill without much resistance. Before the customer blew a fuse and socket'd it to 'em.

    Wire we're on the subject, maybe now they'll stop pylon on the pain - if they're cable-able of course.

  19. Simon Martin
    Paris Hilton

    Domestic blast furnace?

    How many of El-reg's readers have a blast furnace at home? Not many I suspect.

    Also, is the Blast Furnace the approved unit of consumption? Surely there is a unit based on the number of the number of sheep that can be sheared or similar?

    Paris - because even she could have worked out that the bill was wrong.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    let me guess

    All that work has been off-shored and they don't read or write anglais?

    Alien, cause that's what it's like dealing with.

  21. Gordon Pryra

    Luckily, my daughter was with me..

    "Luckily, my daughter was with me when I opened the bill and told me not to worry about it"

    Why? Are you really that stupid that you think you would have to pay it?

    Is the British gene pool that shit now that we really have this low level of inteligence bieng spawned?

    We need to bring in stringent controls on who can breed, screw the people who say that its their right to have 15 kids and live of the back of the rest of society

    Red flames denote the gass chambers for the dumb breeders

  22. Elmer Phud Silver badge


    It's actually the rest of the street that is tapping in to her supply. She's the only one who isn't busy growing aromatic herbs.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wire they doing this?

    And watt can we do to insulate ourselves against it?

    If I'd got a charge like that I'd be that shocked, I'd switch supplier like lightning.

  24. John Robson Silver badge

    Account number

    Is that charge for the next account number? So are all account numbers after that messed up as well?

  25. dervheid


    just complete, total and utter fuckwits.

  26. John Ferris

    You might laugh...

    but one day in the future all monthly bills will be this high.

    We're doomed, doomed I tells yah!

  27. Joe
    Thumb Up

    @ Stu Reeves

    Point well made! My first thoughts exactly.

    Surely the sort of people who's initial thought is that a £90m bill is genuine and not a mistake are better of away from this world? Inflation hasn't quite reached Zimbabwe-levels yet, after all!

  28. David Edwards

    I agree with Dangermouse

    Yes id ignore it and go to court, make them pay costs. Why should we be responsible for informing them of their cock ups.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OHM my goodness !

    Watt was she running , a De Lorean at 88mph ?

  30. Wesley Wakeman

    Blast Furnace

    Actually I think it would be 25,000 blast Furnaces. If a blast furnace consumes 1000 units a day for 28 days (okay so not a calendar month) thats only 28000 units. 25,000 x 28,000 = 700,000,000. Not sure where you'd store 25,000 blast furnaces though :)

    Mines the one with the enormous garage or a T.A.R.D.I.S.


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That'll teach her

    to leave the hall light on overnight :)

  32. Anonymous Coward

    How much?!

    It should have been pretty easy for the billing system to flag this as wrong. Given that a typical domestic supply will have a 100A main fuse (and usually the meter has a maximum working current of 100A), you are going to be limited to a max of about 550 'units' of electricity per day. To use that much electricity is going to take >3000 years!

    Simple sanity checks of a bill for more than say 5000 units in a billing period (i.e. a quarter), should be flagged for checking would work.

  33. Miami Mike

    Joining the LRA

    Joining the LRA (Luddite Resistance Army) as soon as I can find a pencil and a stamp - they don't have e-mail (duh).

    This has happened to me not once, but THREE times.

    1) Florida Power & Light had just introduced "pay automatically by direct debit" and they were trumpeting it as the best thing since beer in cans.

    I was getting electric bills in the range of $50 a month, FPL sent me a bill for $400. When I called, they said it was a mistake, we'll send someone out to re-read your meter.

    I asked what would have happened if I had signed fro autodebit, would you have taken the $400? Answer; "Yes. But we'd give it back after we investigated it." (And how long does THAT take?)

    2) Had this nasty slum property, financed through Washington Mutual Bank (California). Mortgage was $383/mo.

    Mortgage payment notice arrives - $5,000,000.83 (note the 83 cents!) Holy bupkas, batman! Called so called "customer service" at WaMu, was told they were having computer problems, pay the usual amount. "Oh, and would you like to sign up for autodebit sir?" And if I did, would you have taken the $5,000,000.83 out of my account? Yes. If I didn't have $5,000,000.83, would you charge me a bounced check fee? Yes. OK, go **** yourselves then.

    3) The very next month, Washington Mutual sent a mortgage payment notice for the first payment, the next payment, and the late fee . . . wait for it . . . $43,000,000 plus some change - no Sh*T!!!! I saved the notice. Still waiting to hear from the collection agencies on this one. Slum is sold, property is paid off. Good riddance to it and them (and the dirtball tenants).

    Still want autodebit? Paper checks and stamps are cheap insurance against this kind of problem.

  34. chatterbox

    "We have systems to ensure these errors ARE made."

    My favourite Npower experience was when their meter reader wrote down a 7 instead of a 1 in the thousands column and they put my direct debit way, way up to a level that might have been appropriate if I was a family of five with a monster TV on all the time and a server farm in the attic, but was ridiculous for a single, energy-conscious person like me. I submitted my own meter readings and they rejected them because they didn't believe me. Eventually they sent their own meter reader round and rejected that reading too because their system thought it didn't look realistic. I got them to reduce my direct debit at one point but the next month they put it back up again. After many months it finally got sorted out and I got a refund of £600.

    I have stuck with them but only because the more data they gather about my usage habits, the more likely they are to get it right in future - I hope.

  35. Andy Worth


    "Luckily, my daughter was with me when I opened the bill and told me not to worry about it."

    So she's saying she'd have taken a £90m+ bill seriously if her daughter hadn't been there then?

  36. Richard Scratcher

    £90m? Pah!

    For a real cock-up see British Gas. They sell leccy too and in 2003 they sent a customer a bill for £2,320,333,681,613 ($4.5 trillion).

    See BBC news item

    That's enough power to run a Death Star for just over 12 years.

  37. Graham Bartlett

    @Stu and Gordon

    Thank heavens the pondlife-level intelligence seems not to have been passed down the line to her daughter.

    Mind you, living in Cambridge, I can say that there certainly are some right weirdos living round here!

  38. John Stag

    "systems to ensure..."

    How about this:

    if ($customerType == DOMESTIC) and ($bill > 2000) then





    That'll be $90m consulting fee please....

  39. kain preacher Silver badge

    Real reason

    She was building a device to get rid her council of stupid people. On that same day unknown to her, they were holding a convention of stupid council people in her home town. The device overload and had a melt down.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    @Richard Scratcher

    I am getting about 3Tl/100km on my Death Star so, I figure for $4.5 Trillion, converted at the current rate of exchange between US and CDN, that about $4.5T CDN, and gas at $1.30/l I'd get 14 years of normal use on my Death Star.

    Mines the one with the Death Star keys and cafeteria tray in the pocket ...


  41. Daniel B.


    Hm... seems like she left the Time Displacement Portal on during the night.

    Or maybe the USS Enterprise was charging its dilithium crystals from her power supply?

  42. Fred

    @ R Gordon

    Now that ** is ** a legally recognized unit of power usage : )

    Aliens - 'cause who else has death stars ?

  43. Christoph Silver badge

    They claim they've cancelled it

    If they have actually cancelled it then they are being remarkably efficient for nPower considering the incompetence they showed when I objected to them inventing a name at my address and transferring my utilities to themselves under that name.

  44. peter
    Paris Hilton

    "We have systems to ensure these errors are not made."

    If only there was some truth to that obvious lie.

    After about 3 years of being with them, I got an quarterly estimated bill that was a bit high. In fact it was more that I had spent in the last three years. I would have ignored it except for the bit that said that they were going to increase my Direct Debit to about £500 per month. Eeeek.

    I tried to explain to Tracy ("I got a GCSE in Domestic Science") at the call centre that their computer is a bit crook and that I was not going to allow them to take £500/month, but the only response was that the "Computer must be right" and that "people use more energy during winter you know". No amount of explaining that the estimate was about 10x bigger that I had ever spent in any quarter in the last three years would convince her that the computer was wrong. I gave a real reading which showed I was actually in credit and her response...... "you must have used less this quarter than you normally do." Sigh.

    Paris......Money.....Maths. You know how to join the dots.

  45. DAN*tastik

    I know what happened!

    She had a japanese woman hiding in her closet using an electric blast furnace full blast to dry her long hair!

    And I bet she didn't check her loft

  46. Fred

    SEC -

    SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission in the US) would want to take a look at a company that posted collectables of 180 million USD, then "disappears" that amount, not to mention 4.5 trillion.

    if the numbers sat there over the end of a quarter (or other reporting period) they WOULD affect company valuation. Looks like stock manipulation to me :)

    Does GB have such a an organization - to over see the stock exchange - to remove market manipulation? If so - has this organization looked into any of these companies?

  47. Jimbo
    Paris Hilton

    "We have systems...

    Npower once entered our gas meter reading (c.8000 units) onto our electric account (which had previously stood at over 50,000 units), resulting in us being (by their reckoning) £3,650 in credit. When I questioned a year later why we hadn't received a bill for ages, they explained they didn't bother to send one if we were in credit. Brilliant. (btw I would never advocate people doing this on purpose, then piling the bill money into a high-interest account until such time as Npower discover their mistake...)

    Paris, cos she'd expect to get paid £3,650 before she provided a service.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward - "All that work has been off-shored and they don't read or write anglais?"

    Last time I rang npower the call centre staff sounded like Geordies. Is Newcastle officially "off-shore" now? Maybe I ought to put my money there as a tax haven then. On second thoughts that's Northern Wreck's home base isn't it?

  49. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    The idiots are everywhere.. and they're breeding

    While not in the league of a 90 milion electric bill, my supplier still cant get it right, every time they do an estimated reading its 1000 units/month, the fact I've lived here for 13 yrs, and always use 330-340 units/month for those year has no bearing on them... still cant be as bad as getting an estimated reading and bill because ' the meter guy could'nt get in to read the meter' despite the fact its in a box on the outside of the building..........

  50. Andrew Gore
    Gates Horns

    Same old same old.

    Heard the story before. Let me guess - before she changed, her account number was 90454217. It's happened in New Zealand in almost exactly the same way before now, you'd think somewhere, someone would develop a brain. Fat chance, I guess, in the culture of "the computer is always right"! (to which I respond, when the human screws up, so too does the computer - very simple)


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