The mail from Scottish and Southern Electric stated the company may ‘apply for a warrant’ to enter the resident’s home to replace a meter if she did not reply within 10 days.
Cllr Liz Smith, said the 89-year-old lady was very distressed on receipt of the letter, which she found threatening and confusing.
“She rang me up in a terrible state and I went round there and asked to see the letter. My first reaction was, ‘oh no, you can’t do this’, because I had put her on their register as elderly and handicapped,” Liz said.
“I’m fed up of large companies thinking that they can treat the elderly like this. It’s not right. I was livid.”
The letter, sent on behalf of SSE by G4S, read: “If we do not hear from you within ten days of receiving this letter, SSE may exercise their right to apply for a warrant in accordance with the Rights of Entry Act 1954 to obtain access to your property to carry out a meter replacement.” The letter added that the resident would be ‘liable for any associated costs’, but that ‘we would rather carry out this work with your co-operation’.
SSE had sent a previous letter to the resident about a meter replacement, but she had ignored it as she thought it might be a scam.
As community watch organiser, Liz has been working with Oving’s PSCO to tell vulnerable and elderly people not to answer suspicious letters and calls, but that this letter was particularly upsetting.
She said: “To them it’s a major thing, they see no further than the line ‘we can get a court order to enter your house’, and then panic sets in, depression sets in and they’re fearful to open the door.”
“She was distressed and she was frightened. That’s not happening on my watch, I will tackle it. It’s just not on.”
A spokesperson for SSE said :“Electricity and gas meters may need replacing for a variety of reasons; most often for the customers safety if the meter is reaching the end of its operating life.
“Wherever possible we liaise with customers to make sure this is a done at a convenient time and make sure the replacement meters are suitable for the customers’ personal circumstances.
“Legal measures are only ever used as a very last resort. If the customer in question has any concerns at all they should contact our customer service teams who will be happy to talk them through the process.”