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    • Ergin9
    • By Ergin9 6th Oct 16, 8:19 PM
    • 6Posts
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    Ergin9
    Scottish Power Billing Query
    • #1
    • 6th Oct 16, 8:19 PM
    Scottish Power Billing Query 6th Oct 16 at 8:19 PM
    Hi all,

    Wondering if anyone has any experience/knowledge of the below and would be able to provide any advice?

    I completed the purchase of my new property in November 2014, at the time of purchase Scottish Power were the energy provider. I moved into my new home in January 2015 at which point I immediately switched energy provider to British Gas. Scottish power generated an electricity bill for this period (no gas connected at the property) in excess of £300. Naturally I was surprised the electricity bill was so high for an unoccupied property so I challenged their estimate, Scottish power agreed it was excessive and charged me circa £100. I believed this meant the account was settled until July of 2015 where Scottish Power sent me a cheque for £21 stating I was in credit. I cashed this cheque and happily got on with my new energy supplier.

    Fast forward to now (October 2016!!!), Scottish power have sent me a bill for £120 stating that I was undercharged for the period of Nov 14-Jan-15. They claim the bill has been generated by their audit team, who believe no meter readings were provided at the time of my switch. Unfortunately I cannot prove that meter readings were in fact provided namely due to the fact that this occurred two years ago, but secondly due to the fact that my Scottish Power online account has no details of previous correspondences/bills whatsoever apart from the one generated in October 2016. After contacting Scottish Power again, they have said I absolutely am liable for the bill (which I dispute), meaning I have subsequently raised a complaint.

    Scottish Power claim they have two years to collect on an account, however I am wondering if the 'back billing principle' would apply here? As they are trying to chase a bill from over a year ago, i am in fact not liable to pay anything as I have been co-operative throughout and what has generated this bill is a series of errors on their part?

    I am happy to fight this (and will take to Ofgem if necessary), even if they are indeed entitled to this money, I find the practice of taking the best part of 2 years to generate and chase for a bill abhorrent and something which could potentially be extremely upsetting to vulnerable customers.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts anyone would have on this. Am I in the right here to dispute this, or is the energy company acting totally within their rights?

    Cheers
Page 1
    • CashStrapped
    • By CashStrapped 6th Oct 16, 8:31 PM
    • 855 Posts
    • 477 Thanks
    CashStrapped
    • #2
    • 6th Oct 16, 8:31 PM
    • #2
    • 6th Oct 16, 8:31 PM
    Just to clarify one small point...

    When you moved in and set-up the initial account with scottish power, did you let them just estimate a reading, or did you provide one?

    Similarly, when you switch to British gas, did you provide a actual meter reading for the switch process?

    If so, British Gas should have that opening meter reading on your on-line account history. Their opening reading will be the same as the closing reading of the Scottish power account. If that is confirmed as an accurate (customer) reading, then it is one reading you should have available.

    If you ring scottish power, they should be able to provide you with a copy of your bill for that time. It should say whether the opening reading when you created an account was a customer reading and/or estimated.
    • Ergin9
    • By Ergin9 6th Oct 16, 8:51 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Ergin9
    • #3
    • 6th Oct 16, 8:51 PM
    • #3
    • 6th Oct 16, 8:51 PM
    Just to clarify one small point...

    When you moved in and set-up the initial account with scottish power, did you let them just estimate a reading, or did you provide one?

    Similarly, when you switch to British gas, did you provide a actual meter reading for the switch process?

    If so, British Gas should have that opening meter reading on your on-line account history. Their opening reading will be the same as the closing reading of the Scottish power account. If that is confirmed as an accurate (customer) reading, then it is one reading you should have available.

    If you ring scottish power, they should be able to provide you with a copy of your bill for that time. It should say whether the opening reading when you created an account was a customer reading and/or estimated.
    Originally posted by CashStrapped
    That's helpful, thank you.

    I've just logged into my BG account and can see that my opening reading from Jan15 is the same as the meter reading on the latest bill (Oct 16) that Scottish Power have sent me.

    I'm fairly certain that opening readings were provided to Scottish power. I'm aware fairly certain isn't really good enough in circumstances like this though so know this could cause me an issue.

    What confuses me is that i've already paid for this period (i'll get on to them to chase bills), re-estimating an opening reading as opposed to a closing reading seems unusual though?
    • CashStrapped
    • By CashStrapped 6th Oct 16, 9:44 PM
    • 855 Posts
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    CashStrapped
    • #4
    • 6th Oct 16, 9:44 PM
    • #4
    • 6th Oct 16, 9:44 PM
    The important thing to check is that reading is an actual or customer reading and not an estimate.

    It would seem that the opening meter reading is key. Ask scottish power to give you that reading or send out a copy bill.

    It is then a simple case of maths. You can calculate the kwh used from the first reading to the closing reading. Then do the calculations based on the unit rate you had at the time. This will calculate the total you owed while with Scottish Power (not forgetting VAT).

    If you find that you do owe more than you paid, then you probably have to pay it.

    Scottish power did have massive computer system issues during that time, so it could be their system incorrectly calculated the bill. They may only just be catching up with the backlog now.

    I have been with Scottish Power for 2 years with gas and electric and 1 year just gas and luckily, never had an issue.

    Someone else on the forum will know (I can never remember) the legalities of how long they can send out bills from old accounts. But, if at the end of the day the calculations show you do owe them, then you may have to pay for what you used. I do understand it is a bit of a pain having a bill coming in 2 years late though.
    Last edited by CashStrapped; 06-10-2016 at 11:55 PM.
    • hybernia
    • By hybernia 7th Oct 16, 6:14 PM
    • 146 Posts
    • 142 Thanks
    hybernia
    • #5
    • 7th Oct 16, 6:14 PM
    • #5
    • 7th Oct 16, 6:14 PM
    I am happy to fight this (and will take to Ofgem if necessary), even if they are indeed entitled to this money, I find the practice of taking the best part of 2 years to generate and chase for a bill abhorrent and something which could potentially be extremely upsetting to vulnerable customers.
    Originally posted by Ergin9
    OP: just to clarify, no consumer anywhere in the UK can go directly to Ofgem. The procedure to follow in the event of a dispute is to make a formal, written complaint to the energy supplier (send it by Certified Mail, and keep the receipt) and then allow the supplier eight weeks to resolve the dispute. If at the end of eight weeks you are not of the view that the dispute has been resolved, then you can proceed to the Ombudsman Energy Service.

    Ofgem, as many of us know only too well, is a toothless regulator which continues to allow the operation in this country of a number of energy suppliers whose licenses should've been yanked long since.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 7th Oct 16, 7:48 PM
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    Cardew
    • #6
    • 7th Oct 16, 7:48 PM
    • #6
    • 7th Oct 16, 7:48 PM
    As SP raised a bill for that period, albeit an incorrect bill, I don't think the 'back-billing' provision of the code applies.

    You need to establish from SP the meter reading on which they are basing this revised bill, and this of course should be the same opening meter reading on your BG account.

    There is a thread somewhere of several people who have had the same experience with SP.

    Even if SP are correct that you owe the sum claimed, it is still worth submitting a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman about your treatment, and you should get offered a 'goodwill' reduction.
    • Ergin9
    • By Ergin9 7th Oct 16, 10:59 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Ergin9
    • #7
    • 7th Oct 16, 10:59 PM
    • #7
    • 7th Oct 16, 10:59 PM
    Tried getting hold of SP today with very little success, will try again early tomorrow in the hope that their phone lines are quieter. My 'final' reading was definitely customer read so next steps will be for me to try attain earlier bills to understand what's changed between now and two years ago, allowing me to calculate any differences.

    I know I can't go to Ofgem straight away, that will be where I go to after SP's 8 weeks have elapsed. As Cardew suggests below, i'll likely turn to them even if SP are in the right from a financial point of view as I think waiting 2 years to bill me definitely deserves some sort of apology/goodwill gesture on their part.

    There was me thinking nobody could be as bad as Vodafone for random billing and service.
    • hybernia
    • By hybernia 8th Oct 16, 5:06 PM
    • 146 Posts
    • 142 Thanks
    hybernia
    • #8
    • 8th Oct 16, 5:06 PM
    • #8
    • 8th Oct 16, 5:06 PM
    I know I can't go to Ofgem straight away, that will be where I go to after SP's 8 weeks have elapsed. As Cardew suggests below, i'll likely turn to them even if SP are in the right from a financial point of view as I think waiting 2 years to bill me definitely deserves some sort of apology/goodwill gesture on their part. There was me thinking nobody could be as bad as Vodafone for random billing and service.
    Originally posted by Ergin9
    Good luck with everything -- but don't confuse Ofgem with the Energy Ombudsman Service. They're not one and the same. Where domestic customers are concerned, Ofgem stipulates that a customer *must* first ask his / her supplier to resolve the complaint and then, if that doesn't work out, *must* raise a complaint with the independent Ombudsman service.

    If at the end of that process, either party to the dispute isn't happy with the Ombudsman's "provisional conclusion", then it may (stress "may") be possible for a reference be made to Ofgem for a "determination". Ofgem has more detailed information here:

    https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2012/08/determinationsguidanceaug2012_0.pdf

    Cardew's knowledge is substantial so it's possible he / she may know of a case where an individual domestic consumer has ever managed to get a complaint "determined" by Ofgem.
    • SammenForLivet2
    • By SammenForLivet2 9th Oct 16, 1:29 PM
    • 525 Posts
    • 543 Thanks
    SammenForLivet2
    • #9
    • 9th Oct 16, 1:29 PM
    • #9
    • 9th Oct 16, 1:29 PM
    I don't fully understand how Scottish Power came to rebill the account.

    The transfer readings (e.g: The Readings that Scottish Power should have billed you to) are the responsibility of British Gas in this case, as the gaining supplier. Scottish Power should not have billed you without obtaining permission from British Gas to do so.

    I would contact British Gas to confirm what they have opened your account with. Then check Scottish Power's new revised start bill and check the readings match. It's been years now, and it will be very hard to get this bill altered officially, particularly as it is for electricity.

    If they match, I suspect you'll have to pay Scottish Power. I would be expecting a GOGW from Scottish Power, as they should not have rebilled you until they have the permission from British Gas to provide uninterrupted billing. Speaking from industry experience, British Gas are amazing at Disputed Reads, so it should not have been hard for SP to call BG and agree the correct transfer readings.
    Thank you all for helping me make my day by saving money!
    Although I work in the trenches for a residential energy supplier, any views, opinions or ideas are my own, and don't represent the views of my employer.
    • Ergin9
    • By Ergin9 9th Oct 16, 8:40 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Ergin9
    I don't fully understand how Scottish Power came to rebill the account.

    The transfer readings (e.g: The Readings that Scottish Power should have billed you to) are the responsibility of British Gas in this case, as the gaining supplier. Scottish Power should not have billed you without obtaining permission from British Gas to do so.

    I would contact British Gas to confirm what they have opened your account with. Then check Scottish Power's new revised start bill and check the readings match. It's been years now, and it will be very hard to get this bill altered officially, particularly as it is for electricity.

    If they match, I suspect you'll have to pay Scottish Power. I would be expecting a GOGW from Scottish Power, as they should not have rebilled you until they have the permission from British Gas to provide uninterrupted billing. Speaking from industry experience, British Gas are amazing at Disputed Reads, so it should not have been hard for SP to call BG and agree the correct transfer readings.
    Originally posted by SammenForLivet2

    Thanks, from what I can see the initial read from BG (customer read) is the same as the closing read on the latest SP statement. I'll speak to BG to confirm whether they had permission to bill me though.

    Managed to speak to SP yesterday after the joy of spending more than an hour on hold in total. They claim the inital bills from 14/15 (required for me to see opening readings and calculate costs) are no longer available because the system has overwritten them to create the new bill. Apparently it's just how their system works, even the advisor went as far as saying it's not fit for purpose

    They are hoping to post me paper bills from the earlier period sometime this week although i'm not quite sure how they'll manage that if they aren't there?!?! I'll await eagerly.
    • CashStrapped
    • By CashStrapped 9th Oct 16, 9:38 PM
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    • 477 Thanks
    CashStrapped
    At least you got through....


    In any of that conversation, did they shed any light on exactly why they have produced a new bill and recalculated what you owe?

    If their system as mysteriously wiped the original bills and meter readings and as other have pointed out, both BG and SP agreed opening/closing readings, I do not see how they have any evidence to recalculate one. Unless it was a tariff issue.

    Start penning that complaint letter
    • stevegrass777
    • By stevegrass777 10th Oct 16, 12:01 AM
    • 50 Posts
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    stevegrass777
    The energy billing code says the can't back bill for anything over 12 months,also it mentions accurate bills.
    http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/customers/energy-industry-codes/code-of-practice-for-accurate-bills.html
    SP are nearly as bad as npower.
    • SammenForLivet2
    • By SammenForLivet2 10th Oct 16, 1:35 PM
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    SammenForLivet2
    Edit: From the sounds of it, it is not the transfer readings but open readings that are the problem.

    Would suggest the OP to see if they have the home moves document - if not, I guess SP will need to base on EAC from move in date - transfer to BG date.

    If the OP can't provide an actual read for move in, and SP have no record of it, be interesting to see what happens.
    Last edited by SammenForLivet2; 10-10-2016 at 4:41 PM.
    Thank you all for helping me make my day by saving money!
    Although I work in the trenches for a residential energy supplier, any views, opinions or ideas are my own, and don't represent the views of my employer.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 10th Oct 16, 1:53 PM
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    Cardew
    The energy billing code says the can't back bill for anything over 12 months,also it mentions accurate bills.
    http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/customers/energy-industry-codes/code-of-practice-for-accurate-bills.html
    SP are nearly as bad as npower.
    Originally posted by stevegrass777
    They are not back-billing over 12 months. They did raise a bill and in any case there is the caveat that back billing only applies if the company were at fault.

    The dispute is about the accuracy of that bill, which as the OP acknowledges could possibly be the fault of the OP, or more probably the fault of SP.

    They claim the bill has been generated by their audit team, who believe no meter readings were provided at the time of my switch. Unfortunately I cannot prove that meter readings were in fact provided


    I'm fairly certain that opening readings were provided to Scottish power. I'm aware fairly certain isn't really good enough in circumstances like this though so know this could cause me an issue.
    That is the issue that needs resolving.
    • stevegrass777
    • By stevegrass777 10th Oct 16, 2:56 PM
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    stevegrass777
    As far as I am aware they have to supply an accurate bill not just a bill within 12 months,and when you change suppliers the new suppliers have so many days to do a manual read of the meter,I think it is around one month so maybe 30 days.
    Either way the cowboy suppliers (npower and Scottish power in my experience) both play fast and loose with the rules,and often don't abide by the energy billing code,but what you to cough up for there failings.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 10th Oct 16, 5:26 PM
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    Cardew
    As far as I am aware they have to supply an accurate bill not just a bill within 12 months,and when you change suppliers the new suppliers have so many days to do a manual read of the meter,I think it is around one month so maybe 30 days.
    Originally posted by stevegrass777
    Have you a source for that information?

    What would be the point of the losing supplier going to the property* 30days after the occupier had given his reading to the gaining supplier. They could hardly dispute the 30 day old reading.

    * even if they could gain access to read the meter.
    Last edited by Cardew; 10-10-2016 at 5:30 PM.
    • stevegrass777
    • By stevegrass777 10th Oct 16, 8:06 PM
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    stevegrass777
    5. Back billing
    Suppliers have signed up to the back-billing principles. They will assess each back-billing case individually.
    5.1 If your supplier is at fault and has not sent you an accurate bill that they should have sent you, they will not ask you to pay any extra for energy you used (and which you did not receive an accurate bill for) more than one year before they issued the bill.

    And
    1. Switching
    Suppliers will work with customers to make sure accurate information is recorded and transfers between suppliers are smooth.
    1.1 Suppliers will use an agreed meter reading to open and close accounts.
    1.2 Suppliers will provide you with the information you need during the switching process.
    http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/publication.html?task=file.download&id=4991

    Although it doesn't say about the 30 day thing I mentioned this was said to me by a supplier,anyway it seems as above suppliers should have used an agreed meter reading,so if they are changing the meter read after 12 months or trying to correct a inaccurate bill after 12 months they can't do it,
    Either way it probably won't stop them pursuing you as in my experience SP and NPower ignore the energy billing code.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 10th Oct 16, 9:39 PM
    • 26,058 Posts
    • 12,527 Thanks
    Cardew
    5. Back billing
    Suppliers have signed up to the back-billing principles. They will assess each back-billing case individually.
    5.1 If your supplier is at fault and has not sent you an accurate bill that they should have sent you, they will not ask you to pay any extra for energy you used (and which you did not receive an accurate bill for) more than one year before they issued the bill.

    And
    1. Switching
    Suppliers will work with customers to make sure accurate information is recorded and transfers between suppliers are smooth.
    1.1 Suppliers will use an agreed meter reading to open and close accounts.
    1.2 Suppliers will provide you with the information you need during the switching process.
    http://www.energy-uk.org.uk/publication.html?task=file.download&id=4991

    Although it doesn't say about the 30 day thing I mentioned this was said to me by a supplier,anyway it seems as above suppliers should have used an agreed meter reading,so if they are changing the meter read after 12 months or trying to correct a inaccurate bill after 12 months they can't do it,
    Either way it probably won't stop them pursuing you as in my experience SP and NPower ignore the energy billing code.
    Originally posted by stevegrass777
    So we can rule out action under the back-billing clause and this statement is not accurate:

    so if they are changing the meter read after 12 months or trying to correct a inaccurate bill after 12 months they can't do it,
    We all support the thrust of the OP's argument, but it doesn't help to misinterpret regulations
    • stevegrass777
    • By stevegrass777 10th Oct 16, 10:26 PM
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    stevegrass777
    Well they didn't produce an accurate bill within 12 months.
    And the bill seems to not be based on agreed meter readings if they were agreed by both sides why did the bill change after 12 months.
    also if a final bill changes (different end meter reads) shouldn't the starting meter readings have to change so the starting bill should go down by a similar amount to the change in the final bill.
    You need to check that the starting meter read is the same as the new sp end meter read,otherwise you may be paying twice.ive had that one with npower,both companies wanting payment for the same energy.
    • Ergin9
    • By Ergin9 10th Oct 16, 10:49 PM
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    Ergin9
    Appreciate all of your inputs into this, I have to say i'm no clearer on whether the back billing principle applies in this instance or not, the wording isn't exactly clear cut. I've not actually discussed this aspect with a complaints handler yet, it'll be interesting to see how their opinion differs to the informative posts i've read on this thread.

    I'm now confident that the new bill is generated by SP updating opening estimates on my account. SP are in the process of trying to find my original statements for me to understand the difference between now and then. As they are using an estimate, what grounds do i have to challenge this (struggling to find any record of actual opening estimates unfortunately, that's not to say I didn't provide any at the time though)? Ultimately, any evidence is surely non-existent?
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