In our relationship with energy companies, it's easy to feel that they hold all the power. However, Barry Payling, a 62-year-old from Rotherham, was unwilling to accept that. He was in dispute over a bill for £450, and felt he was being bullied and messed around by one energy giant. His response was to take them to court for compensation - where he was awarded a total of £3,000.
According to the Mirror, Payling's disagreement centred on an energy bill at his late mother's house - which he rents out. Tenants living there moved out in July last year, without paying the £450 they owed to npower. Payling made it clear to the company that the debt wasn't his, but started receiving a string of letters demanding payment, followed by disconnection notices, and demands from debt collection agencies.
He contacted the company and asked for £80 to compensate him for the inconvenience. When they refused to pay, he took them to court for £450. They did not appear in court, so the case was granted in Payling's favour, and the company paid up.
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He had lost earnings from cancelling work, so took npower to court for £2,400 compensation. Again the company didn't show up and the court decided in Payling's favour. Eventually they paid him the compensation after debt collectors were sent to npower's head office. Payling said he had taken British Gas on in a similar case four years earlier for wasting his time.
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He's not the first man to have turned the tables on a company who won't leave him alone. In October 2012, Richard Herman, a 53-year-old business owner from Sunbury on Thames, was sick of being cold called by the same company, so told the next representative who called that he would be charging them £10 for his wasted time, and recording the calls as proof.
The company called again - for 19 and a half minutes - so he invoiced them for £195. When they didn't pay, he took them to court, and the company agreed to pay up.
Of course most disagreements with companies are resolved long before these sorts of measures are deemed necessary. However, if you find yourself at loggerheads over a bill, the experts say it's worth keeping detailed records of time spent writing letters and making telephone calls in order to try to rectify matters.
Ideally, the effort will be rewarded by the company realising it has made a mistake. Failing that, if you discover that you have spent significant time trying to sort out a problem caused by the company itself, you can at least bill them for your time.
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