An elderly widow from Burnley has shared her frustrating battle with Scottish Power after a faulty smart reader made her bills soar.

Sharine Taylor-Rawlins, was widowed in June 2023 and as she suffered a stroke earlier in the year, struggled to read her electric and gas meters so she requested her supplier to fit a smart meter.

In August, Scottish Power installed the smart meter but the engineer who installed the meter said it was faulty.

He didn’t have a replacement meter on hand, so promised it would either be repaired or replaced soon, she said.

Since then, Scottish Power hasn't fixed the meter and the company has been sending estimated readings that are ‘significantly higher bills’ compared to before the smart meter was installed.

Scottish Power was demanding payment for these estimated bills, which she was refusing to pay.

The company has since apologised for the distress and committed to fixing the smart meter to ensure the bill returns to a normal monthly amount.

Mrs Taylor-Rawlins said: “I am very cautious with my usage and I only showes once a week (due to having a skin condition).

“I spend a lot of my time outside as I’m lonely since my husband passed away. I’m very careful and only boil two cups of tea worth of water in the kettle to make sure I’m using as little as possible.

"This is during summer months as well, where I’m using even less than normal so I’m worried that with the winter months coming up, the bills will increase even more.

“I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this and it’s causing me so much stress. It really isn’t fair for them to be threatening me with court. I can’t handle it.”

The situation has escalated to the point where the company is threatening legal action and additional penalties for non-payment.

Mrs Taylor-Rawlins says the treatment has been “very cruel and unfair”.

She added: “They are slowly putting the estimated bills up and up and don’t know what I’m using.

"I was advised by someone to pay the bill and they’d refund any difference but I’m not trusting that.”

Councillor and former MP Gordon Birtwistle has been helping Mrs Taylor-Rawlins in her fight against Scottish Power.

He said: “Scottish Power are intimidating and threatening and elderly lady who just buried her husband in June.

“She asked Scottish Power to fit a smart meter because she had a stroke and can’t bend down to read the meter.

"The man who fitted it said it was broken and didn’t have a spare one on him. It is not rocket science, all they have to do is replace or repair the meter.

“Her last bill had a £100 penalty fee on, how is that fair? The poor woman can’t sleep, she is worked to death and upset.”

A spokesperson for ScottishPower said: “We apologise to Mrs Taylor-Rawlins for the issues she has experienced at an already difficult time.

"This is not the standard of service we work to deliver for our customers and we regret the additional frustration and distress the delay has caused her.

“Due to a fault, the meters installed at the property were not functioning correctly and their readings could not be shared with us.

"Late payment fees were automatically applied to the account when the bills calculated based on estimated readings were left unpaid.

"We have since arranged for the reversal of these charges and placed a hold on the account, while we investigate this issue.

“We have arranged for an engineer to visit the property, in order to connect both meters for her. If unsuccessful, we will arrange for new meters to be installed at the property.

"We will remain in touch with Mrs Taylor-Rawlins to ensure the issue with her meters is resolved.

"We will then be able to confirm the accurate amount due and next steps for settling the balance on her account, before discussing a goodwill payment in recognition of the inconvenience caused.”