A BOURNEMOUTH woman is fighting for a refund and compensation after discovering that she had been paying a neighbour’s energy bills for eight years.

Jewellery seller Elizabeth Del Sette says the mistake came to light after she queried a gas bill at the beginning of last year.

Scottish Power checked the gas and electric meters at Miss Del Sette’s address in Springbourne and discovered that the serial numbers on them did not match up with her flat.

“The wrong meters had been linked to my flat. I live in flat 5 and had been paying flat 4’s bills. They had been paying mine,” she said.

“There are two adults and a child living there. I live alone in a smaller property.

“I’m always quite frugal and switch off the lights when I leave a room.

“It was the first time I had lived in a flat, and gas and electricity are quite expensive.

“It was always very hot in the other flat. They had the heating going full blast, thinking it was economical, but the bills they were getting were mine.”

She says she has spent the last year trying to get some money back from Scottish Power, which has been her energy supplier for the last four years.

She has also complained to the Energy Ombudsman, who has told her the meter readings for the current and previous occupiers of flat 4 cannot be accessed because of data protection issues.

Miss Del Sette has also used British Gas and Southern Electric since moving in nine years ago, but has no paper records because she pays online.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Power said it had used metering information from the industry’s database, the Meter Point Administration Service.

“We apologise for the inconvenience. We believe the details were wrong. We managed to pick this up and rectify our records.”

She added that the company had worked out Miss Del Sette’s account from two meter readings taken last summer.

“The ombudsman decided we had billed the account correctly,” she said. “It actually worked in her favour because the total was based on the milder months.

“Miss Del Sette was on a large credit, so hasn’t paid any bills to us since 2009.”