After Jack Rowland died aged 70 from Covid-19 on March 31, his brother Robert has been bombarded by the energy company Eon and a Manchester-based debt collection company with payment demands. Robert is the executor of his brother’s will but probate — the official confirmation that a will is legally accepted and the estate’s assets can be distributed — has not yet been granted.

Eon wrote to Robert on May 27 saying that this brother owed an estimated £360.12 for electricity and gas. "The letter then said that I could pay in full and 'be able to claim this back from the estate,'" Robert said. He decided that as he did not legally have to pay the bill, he would do it once the estate was settled.

Eon informed him that it outsourced the management of deceased customers' debts to its "probate partner" Phillips & Cohen and had passed on Robert's personal information, which he did not agree to.

Carla Whalen comments in The Times' Troubleshooter section that Eon should have specifically mentioned Phillips & Cohen by name in its publicly available privacy policy. Robert should have been informed by Eon's customer service agents that he would now be treated as an Eon customer. 

Eon set debt collectors on me over dead brother’s bill is available to read on The Times' website via subscription. 

Carla Whalen is a senior associate in the charities and social businesses team. She assists clients with HR matters and helps employers to defend claims in the Employment Tribunal.