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Northern Powergrid accidentally sends compensation cheque of £2.3 trillion

"Before I bank the cheque however, are you 100% certain you can afford this?"

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 14th February 2022

Northern Powergrid has been forced to apologise to dozens of customers after accidentally issuing compensation cheques for £2.3 trillion.

Following the aftermath of the “once in a generation” Storm Arwen – which back in late November and early December, left thousands of homes in the north of England and widespread parts of Scotland without any electricity during some of the oldest months of the year – Northern Powergrid is currently in the process of paying compensation to tens of thousands of customers who suffered power outages.

But it didn’t all go to plan for the energy distributor.

In a now-viral tweet, one customer took to social media to share a picture of a compensation cheque showing the eye-watering sum of £2.3 trillion, and asked if the company are “100% certain you can afford this?”.

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Cheque recipient Gareth Hughes wrote on Twitter over the weekend: “Thank you for our compensation payment Northern Powergrid for the several days we were without power following Storm Arwen.

“Before I bank the cheque however, are you 100% certain you can afford this?”

Mr Hughes told Sky News the letter “just made me laugh”.

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“I knew straight away it wouldn’t be honoured, but it was nice to dream for a couple of minutes,” he comically added.

Within hours of sharing the photo of the hilarious mistake, the tweet went onto amass tens of thousands of likes, retweets, and comments from people unable to believe the situation had happened, wishing they’d got a cheque with that sum too, and telling Mr Hughes they “so would have banked it” if it was them.

It turns out that Mr Hughes wasn’t the only one to have received a cheque with an accidentally-inflated sum though, as other people have since come forward to say the same happened to them, and the energy supplier has also confirmed that 74 of its customers had been given compensation cheques with an incorrect payment amount.

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The company thanked those who were “honest” about the error.

After the tweet went viral, Northern Powergrid were forced to reply to Mr Hughes to apologise for the incident, explaining: “Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Please DM us your contact details including address and postcode so we can correct this oversight.

In response to another customer in the same position, who called the company out for its “staggering level of incompetence”, Northern Powergrid said: “There have been some cheques issued with the incorrect amount for which we are sorry [and] our team are going to re issue the correct cheques early next week.”

They also asked for the customer to confirm their details so that the situation “can be processed as quickly as possible.”

A spokesperson for Northern Powergrid said following the incident: “As soon as we identified the clerical error, which was caused by the electricity meter reference number being incorrectly quoted as the payment sum, we ensured all 74 customers’ cheques were stopped so they could not be cashed.

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“We have been investigating how this error happened and carrying out checks of previous payments.

“All indications are that this was an isolated incident.

“We thank those customers who were honest and contacted us and we have been making contact directly over the weekend with all 74 customers affected to make them aware, apologise for the error and reassure them that a correct payment will be issued to them on Monday.”

Featured Image – Wikipedia Commons