Where are my housemates when I need to pay the bill

I lived in Haringey with five housemates and I was in charge of the gas and electricity bills. When we moved in we had a standard gas meter and a prepayment key electricity meter.

As the key meter was expensive, I decided to change them both to the same company, on standard meters to keep costs down. After shopping around it seemed npower was cheapest.

We had a standard meter installed in, I believe, April 2013. At the time, I was sent two letters, “Joining Info Gas” and “Joining Info Electricity”. I called npower to set up a direct debit to pay, and again received a letter confirming the monthly payment – £77.25. We all moved out eight months ago and now, out of the blue, I have been sent a bill for £692.

It seems npower wasn’t billing me for electricity, but now wants to charge me. I haven’t got the money and we have all gone our separate ways. SB, London

The unhelpful moral of this tale is never to volunteer to pay the energy bills if you ever share a house.

This dispute is a tricky one. You had clearly done all that was asked of you, and thought you were paying the electricity bill. Equally, you did use the electricity, and £77 a month was unlikely to have been enough for both utilities.

The energy companies in general, and npower specifically, are in a real mess with billing. Last week it emerged that there were a record 6.5m complaints from customers like you last year.

Npower has now agreed to halve the bill and to give you 12 months to repay it. Time to start chasing those flatmates …