Opus pursues pub licensee for £22,000

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Opus, Money

Gary McNaughton faced a huge bill at the New Inn
Gary McNaughton faced a huge bill at the New Inn
Opus Energy is trying to claim more than £22,000 from a licensee who stopped paying electricity bills after they soared from £319 to £2,200 per...

Opus Energy is trying to claim more than £22,000 from a licensee who stopped paying electricity bills after they soared from £319 to £2,200 per month.

Gary McNaughton said he was "grossly mis-sold" his contract in 2004 because he was led to believe it would last one year at £319 per month. He was tied into four years; monthly bills rose to £897 after two months and £1,221 after six.

Opus came under fire in 2007 when several licensees reported being charged far more for their bills than they had been told. The final straw for McNaughton came at the start of 2009 when monthly bills rose to £2,200 after he was put on a "rollover contract" when Opus blocked his bid to switch supplier.

McNaughton claims he wrote to Opus saying he didn't want to renew the contract. Opus denies receiving a letter and said he asked for the contract not be renewed on the phone 30 days after the cancellation point.

McNaughton, Trust Inns tenant of the New Inn, Goonhavern, Cornwall, said: "Over the following months I had many letters and phone calls threatening me with court action to cut me off. I made them many sensible offers, but they were all rejected."

Twice last year, magistrates rejected attempts by Opus to have the electricity supply disconnected.

The supplier has now sent McNaughton a county court claim for £22,331 in unpaid bills and legal costs. The licensee said he has paid Opus £7,822 since the rollover contract began.

McNaughton, who has contacted his MP Sarah Newton about Opus, labelled his treatment "absolutely disgusting".

Opus defends its actions

"We are surprised that, less than a month after Opus began legal proceedings to recover the money owed, Mr McNaughton has made this outrageous and false allegation for the first time — more than six years after the contract was agreed with us.

"Mr McNaughton twice renewed his contract, so he was well aware that he could terminate renewal within the contractually agreed period. He failed to do so until after this period when we had purchased his electricity for the coming year.

"The increase in his payment plan was a result of rises in the wholesale price of electricity. Mr McNaughton's offer to pay less than half of his bill in full and final settlement was unrealistic and so we simply could not accept it."

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