Energy firm thanks ‘honest’ customers who didn’t cash cheques for trillions of pounds sent out in error

An energy company that erroneously sent out trillions of pounds in compensation cheques has thanked its “honest” customers for not trying to cash them.

Northern Powergrid is in the process of paying out to tens of thousands of its customers who were left without power for days following Strom Arwen.

The weather system tore through swathes of the UK in November last year, bringing gales of up to 100mph that tore down trees, damaged buildings and killed three people.

The Newcastle-based company said on Sunday that the cheques were sent out by mistake due to a clerical error.

It said customers’ energy meter numbers got mixed up with the amount they were supposed to receive in compensation.

The mistake came to light when one customer took to social media to jokingly ask Northern Powergrid if the eyewatering sum on their cheque was correct.

“Thank you for our compensation payment Northern Powergrid for the several days we were without power following Storm Arwen,” Twitter user Gareth Hughes wrote.

“Before I bank the cheque however, are you 100% certain you can afford this? #trillionpounds”. He had received a cheque for £2.3 trillion.

A company representative responded to Mr Hughes’s message, thanking him for “bringing this to our attention”.

At least four of Mr Hughes’s neighbours had been sent cheques with the same amount written on them, he said.

His original tweet has gone viral, receiving over 50,000 likes and nearly 10,000 shares.

Some Twitter users saw the funny side of the mistake and used the ongoing energy price crisis to poke fun at Northern Powergrid’s error.

“No wonder our bills are big!” one said. Another posted: “I think you own Northern Powergrid now.”

Northern Powergrid later confirmed that 74 customers had been affected by the mistake.

A spokesperson for Northern Powergrid said: “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.

“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.”

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