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  • FIRST POST
    • DBen
    • By DBen 18th May 17, 8:57 PM
    • 3Posts
    • 1Thanks
    DBen
    First Utility failure to issue bill after a year
    • #1
    • 18th May 17, 8:57 PM
    First Utility failure to issue bill after a year 18th May 17 at 8:57 PM
    Hello all, I'm hoping you can offer me some advice on how to deal with an issue I've had with First Utility for nearly a year now. Apologies in advance, its a long one! There's a TL;DR a few paragraphs down...

    Our tenancy started on 1st June last year, when we moved into the property on the 18th, I rang up First Utility to create an account and to get the electricity switched on (prepaid meter with negative credit). While on the phone I arranged for the meter to be switched to a credit meter and for the gas to be transferred onto the same account. A few days later I completed the credit check and all seemed good.

    By October I had still not received a bill so I phoned up the customer service line, I was told it would be sorted and an 'internal communications error' had led to the problem.

    By December we still had not received a bill so I sent my first complaint by recorded post (automatically acknowledged by email) stating my concern and requesting we be back billed for the appropriate amount on the most favourable tariff (we had not had any communication as to what tariff we were supposed to be on). Later on in December the automated texts and emails started rolling in demanding payment for the account and threatening my credit rating. We had still not received a bill!

    In January I sent another complaint by recorded post (again acknowledged) and requested again that a bill be issued on the most favourable tariff and we be compensated for the trouble. I also asked that the threatening messages be stopped and when a bill did come through, we should be able to pay it in installments. Two weeks later I received a call stating that the account had been frozen while this was being looked into. We received a wildly inaccurate bill in the post with no context whatsoever (I had provided meter readings in every letter) and were advised to ignore it and a new one would be issued.

    By February, still nothing! (see a pattern here?) I complained by email which was acknowledged and requested again that a bill be issued, the threatening messages stopped, payment by installments and compensation. A week later, I had an email stating that a bill would now be issued. In mid Feb I complained again (number 4) to the customer service representative's manager to which I received the response that it has been 'prioritized'.

    By the beginning of April I was completely fed up, I complained a fifth time directly to Phil Gripton (the Chief Operating Officer). I also stated that I would liked to achieve a resolution within 6 weeks as we would be moving away from the property (our tenancy ends on the 31 May). 5 days later I received a response from yet another customer service agent stating they were looking into it but then nothing. At the end of April we received another inaccurate bill in the post requesting payment in a 2 week timeframe but for gas only. I sent another message stating that the bill was inaccurate, reminded them of my expected outcomes (correct bill, stop to the threatening debt messages, payment plan and heavy compensation) and to cease the contract (which we have never signed or been emailed) on the 31st May.

    On 10th May I received an email requesting a gas reading and asking me to confirm that we have a pre-pay meter (incorrect), gas meter was exchanged to a credit meter (also incorrect!). I responded immediately with gas and electricity readings for the entire tenancy and corrected their assumptions.

    Since then, nothing!
    TL;DR: Raised with FU in October that we had not been issued a bill. Been complaining constantly right up to the COO since December but keep getting fobbed off. Constantly receiving threatening messages and we move out of the property in a week.
    So what to do? Its been 7 months since I raised the initial complaint and 9 months since I made them aware of the issue.

    When we move out on the 31st, can I refuse to pay? I believe I have the right to compensation to be knocked off whatever bill they concoct. Complain to the ombudsman? (but what will they do?)

    We have just over a week left in the flat and we will certainly not be using them in the new place! Who would have thought it would be so hard to pay money to a utility company!
Page 1
    • phillw
    • By phillw 19th May 17, 7:43 AM
    • 588 Posts
    • 252 Thanks
    phillw
    • #2
    • 19th May 17, 7:43 AM
    • #2
    • 19th May 17, 7:43 AM
    Who would have thought it would be so hard to pay money to a utility company!
    Originally posted by DBen
    To be fair they have been trying to get you to give them money, they just have had trouble telling you why.
    • DBen
    • By DBen 19th May 17, 3:20 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    DBen
    • #3
    • 19th May 17, 3:20 PM
    • #3
    • 19th May 17, 3:20 PM
    Have they? Of the two bills we've received both have been automatically generated, completely inaccurate and we've been told to ignore them.

    Any advice on how to deal with it?
    • StopIt
    • By StopIt 19th May 17, 3:37 PM
    • 486 Posts
    • 420 Thanks
    StopIt
    • #4
    • 19th May 17, 3:37 PM
    • #4
    • 19th May 17, 3:37 PM
    Have they? Of the two bills we've received both have been automatically generated, completely inaccurate and we've been told to ignore them.

    Any advice on how to deal with it?
    Originally posted by DBen

    Escalating the complaint to the ombudsman, to start with.


    However, if you haven't been paying for energy, why haven't you been saving to do so? You've still been using energy that presumably needs paying for. You cannot refuse to pay once this is revolved, less any redress the ombudsman will recommend.
    • DBen
    • By DBen 19th May 17, 3:51 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    DBen
    • #5
    • 19th May 17, 3:51 PM
    • #5
    • 19th May 17, 3:51 PM
    However, if you haven't been paying for energy, why haven't you been saving to do so?
    Originally posted by StopIt
    Who said I haven't? All I've asked is that when the correct bill is issued, we don't have to pay it all at once. I think anybody would struggle if given a bill for a whole year's worth of energy to pay in 28 days...

    Will the ombudsman be able to force them to issue a correct bill? How much compensation is reasonable?
    • StopIt
    • By StopIt 19th May 17, 3:55 PM
    • 486 Posts
    • 420 Thanks
    StopIt
    • #6
    • 19th May 17, 3:55 PM
    • #6
    • 19th May 17, 3:55 PM
    Who said I haven't? All I've asked is that when the correct bill is issued, we don't have to pay it all at once. I think anybody would struggle if given a bill for a whole year's worth of energy to pay in 28 days...

    Will the ombudsman be able to force them to issue a correct bill? How much compensation is reasonable?
    Originally posted by DBen

    If I hadn't been billed for a year (Well, not an issue as I always go Direct Debit), I'd be putting the money that would have been paid to them in a separate pot ready to pay them, so no, I wouldn't struggle to pay. Either way you need to pay for your energy.


    Whatever figure you're thinking of, lower it.


    From their site:


    How might things be put right?

    If we decide to make an award, and you accept it, the energy company must take the action that we require. This might include:
    • a service or a practical action, for example, remove charges incorrectly billed;
    • an apology; or
    • a financial award
    If a financial award is needed, this will be an amount that we consider appropriate to the individual complaint. We can award up to £10,000 but the most common award is much less, about £100.


    https://www.ombudsman-services.org/sectors/energy/resolutions
    • Alex444
    • By Alex444 19th May 17, 7:46 PM
    • 121 Posts
    • 15 Thanks
    Alex444
    • #7
    • 19th May 17, 7:46 PM
    • #7
    • 19th May 17, 7:46 PM
    Go to the Ombudsman, pressure building on this bunch of muppets, I have been with them 5 years and have just got a view of a bill.
    Couldn't access my account on line, they could not set up a DD, did not conform to previous Ombudsman decision.
    I have been informed they are an on line orginisation, will charge for paper bills and then have the audacity to put me on a higher tarriff because no DD has been set up.
    You might like to look at the following Facebook site:-

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/firstutilityrippedmeoff/
    • footyguy
    • By footyguy 19th May 17, 8:08 PM
    • 3,307 Posts
    • 1,277 Thanks
    footyguy
    • #8
    • 19th May 17, 8:08 PM
    • #8
    • 19th May 17, 8:08 PM
    ...How much compensation is reasonable?
    Originally posted by DBen
    The ombudsman doesn't usually do compo
    (they may do losses if they are reasonable, caused entirely by the supplier, and you can prove them)
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 19th May 17, 11:20 PM
    • 26,577 Posts
    • 12,808 Thanks
    Cardew
    • #9
    • 19th May 17, 11:20 PM
    • #9
    • 19th May 17, 11:20 PM

    Will the ombudsman be able to force them to issue a correct bill? How much compensation is reasonable?........................

    When we move out on the 31st, can I refuse to pay? I believe I have the right to compensation to be knocked off whatever bill they concoct. Complain to the ombudsman? (but what will they do?)


    Originally posted by DBen
    On the issue of compensation, you haven't suffered any financial loss so any compensation likely to be in the region of £50.

    If you are still in dispute after you leave and refuse to pay a bill on the grounds it is incorrect, it will be passed to a Debt Collection Agency and you enter the world of black marks on your credit record.
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