Retiree with dementia pushed into overdraft after Ovo Energy tripled bills and left her £7,000 in credit

Pensioner Jill speaks to BBC journalists on Rip Off Britain

The retired teacher saw her bills triple to £621 a month despite living in a two-bedroom terraced house

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 16/10/2023

- 11:10

Updated: 16/10/2023

- 13:06

The retiree, who was dealing with the loss of her late partner, said she thinks it's "unfair" that Ovo Energy could keep so much of her money

A retired teacher living with early-stage dementia saw her energy bills rocket to £621 a month, despite living in a two-bedroom terraced house.

Jill and her late partner John have always been mindful of their energy usage, even before energy bills shot up last year.

She said: “We were quite careful about our use of energy in the house. If we were to go out, then we would be careful to turn it off, or if the weather was very warm, we would turn it off. We were responsive to what was going on around us.”

John managed a lot of their home finances online, including energy bills.

WATCH NOW: Ovo Energy tripled pensioner's energy bills to £621 a month

Jill explained: “I think I probably depended on him quite a lot, so he kept an eye on things. Maybe it was a mistake on my part, but I did used to rely on him a lot.”

Their conscious effort to not waste energy meant their £175 monthly direct debit would always cover their usage.

Sadly, in September last year, John unexpectedly passed away. Jill's son Tom stepped in to help her manage her money and was given power of attorney over her affairs.

He told the BBC's Rip Off Britain: “When John passed away, it was a surprise for all of us and it hit my mother very hard. They had been together for 20 years. They met later in life but they had actually been childhood sweethearts.

“When my mother developed early-stage dementia, John took care of her very well and looked after her so much.”

While looking at his mother’s energy bills, Tom noticed her monthly direct debit had rocketed to a “ludicrous” £621 earlier that year, despite the £175 already covering usage.

As Jill was downsizing from her two-bedroom home at the time, Tom contacted Ovo Energy to close the account and submitted final meter readings.

He said he was told that once the final bill was issued, any credit would be repaid – but it didn’t happen.

The next month, another £621 was taken from Jill’s account, pushing her into her overdraft.

Tom told Rip Off Britain: “The customer service representative said that her account was in credit in the region of £7,000, subject to the final meter reading. I thought, ‘Well, why have they been taking so much? Why have they run up so much credit?’”

Jill said: “It’s a bit scary, I suppose. It undermines my own confidence about my own management skills and my understanding.”

Another £621 left Jill’s account the following month, leaving Tom “horrified”.

He recalled: “I thought, ‘When will this end.’”

Do you have a money story you'd like to share? Get in touch by emailing

John looks at his mother's Ovo Energy bills in pictures pictures

Jill's son Tom stepped in to help her manage her money after John passed away


It happened again a month later, despite Jill having lived in her new house for three months. By this time, Tom calculated Ovo Energy had more than £8,000 of his mother’s money.

Jill said: “I think that it’s unfair that they could hold onto so much of people’s money and it would be fair if they considered the implications of what they do to people and give back what they’ve taken unjustifiably.”

Ovo Energy told Rip Off Britain it was sorry for the concern caused, explaining that it was initially unable to speak to Tom about his mum’s account because his name hadn’t been added to it.

Ovo Energy has now reimbursed Jill’s credit, given her a gesture of goodwill and apologised for the length of time it took to resolve the issue.

An Ovo Energy spokesperson told GB News: "We’re very sorry for the concern caused and can confirm the account has now been updated and a goodwill gesture offered.

"We’ve advised [Tom] to be added to the account, either as Power of Attorney or other authority, so we can discuss his mother’s account with him in future. We’ve very sorry for the length of time taken to resolve the issue.”

You may like