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  • FIRST POST
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 11:35 AM
    • 24Posts
    • 3Thanks
    moroc
    Energy Ombudsman - Challenge A Decision
    • #1
    • 3rd Oct 17, 11:35 AM
    Energy Ombudsman - Challenge A Decision 3rd Oct 17 at 11:35 AM
    Hello

    I've had an ongoing mare with Sc*ttish P*wer (Sorry for the obscene language) after moving in to a property where they had control of supply.

    I arranged a transfer as soon as I was aware who was the supplier, and attempted to pay my bill via a direct debit to Scottish Power. They never took the payments and then attempted to blame me, when the fault was at their end, I never got a clear explanation but someone didn't set up the DD correctly and payment was never taken.

    What followed was a series them trying to re-bill at a higher amount, adding late payment charges etc, until we requested a deadlock letter in order to take it to the Ombudsman.

    The letter contained a number of false statements, which they refused to amend, and they continued to harass us for payment AFTER the deadlock letter was issued, employing debt collectors in clear contravention of the Financial Conduct Authority statute CONC 7.14.1 - as I understand it, they are registered on the FCA register, and therefore legally bound to comply with their rules?

    The ombudsman rushed through an "investigation", reaching a decision despite being informed that I was waiting on SP providing recordings of phone calls, emails etc via a Subject Access Request; i.e. the Ombudsman investigator did not have access to the full evidence. They offered a derisory £100 "gesture of goodwill" due to "recognition of service shortfalls" - apparently, all SP had done wrong was failed to set up the DD, and their illegal harassment via weekly threatening letters and debt collection agencies (copies of which WERE supplied to the Ombudsman) were perfectly acceptable?

    Quote: "It is reasonable that you consumed energy at your time in the property on supply with it and therefore it is entitled to expect payment. Where a supplier does not successfully gain payment, it will complete its debt collection process. I note that the fault with not gaining payment is with Scottish Power and I have considered this as a service shortfall."

    Upon rejecting their initial proposal, I was told I had 14 days to supply "further evidence", i.e. the SAR, to Scottish Power, who failed to supply the requested SAR until day 14 of this period, making sending it to the Ombudsman impossible. I was told that they would not consider taking action against SP for their delay in supplying the SAR unless an additional complaint was raised with SP regarding the timescales - laughable.

    I find this decision to be a disgrace, to be quite honest. The bill was only for around £260 but it's the sheer principle that I am still expected to pay them £160 given the illegal manner in which they have acted. The Ombudsman's investigator has also made a number of false statements in their communication and has omitted to include very pertinent information to which they are now leaning on as justification for their decision.

    I'm not angry at the level of the financial award but how the investigation has been conducted - it is very slapdash, ignores key evidence and contains a number of false and illogical statements, and I wish to challenge the decision on these grounds.

    I'd like to know what my options are as far as challenging the Ombudsman decision. The decision has been made by an investigator who has advised I have "no right to appeal", however I am aware you can challenge a decision made by an investigator of the Financial Ombdusman, and have the case reviewed directly by an Ombudsman instead of an investigator, and was wondering (i) if this is also the case with the Energy Ombudsman and (ii) how I would go about escalating the complaint?
Page 1
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 11:52 AM
    • 24 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    moroc
    • #2
    • 3rd Oct 17, 11:52 AM
    • #2
    • 3rd Oct 17, 11:52 AM
    My complaint in brief;

    I complained to the Ombudsman about Scottish Power because of...
    - repeated inaccurate billing, eventually resulting in a dispute
    - an eventual final bill was agreed, and a payment via direct debit agreed (to be paid over the course of three months), however SP never collected the money via DD
    - SP then re-billed at a higher amount, which I disputed
    - SP then re-billed again, adding a late payment charge, which I again disputed
    - Tired of their incompetence, I requested the account deadlocked
    - SP supplied a deadlock letter filled with inaccuracies / false statements, which they refused to amend
    - SP billed AGAIN after the account was deadlocked, adding another late payment charge
    - SP illegally employed debt collectors to chase the deadlocked bill and sent regular threatening letters, text messages and phone calls

    I'm p'd off with the Ombudsman investigator as they...

    - conducted their investigation despite being advised, and acknowledging, that I was awaiting material being supplied from SP after making a Subject Access Request
    - offered a £100 goodwill gesture, ignoring pertinent information such as the contravention of FCA CONC 7.14.1 and the harrassment by SP, clear evidence of which was provided
    - imposed a 14-day deadline to deliver further information, during which SP eventually delivered the SAR by post on day 13
    - communicated to me that I had to deliver the SAR pack to the Ombudsman investigator by close of play the same day - illogical and frankly baffling request
    - made false statements regarding the transparency of their investigation, i.e. claiming all timescales are made clear prior to raising the claim - this is simply not true, they are not listed anywhere in the complaints section of their website or the documentation supplied after a complaint is raised, and were not mentioned in any of the communications from the Ombudsman investigators
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 3rd Oct 17, 11:54 AM
    • 26,891 Posts
    • 13,039 Thanks
    Cardew
    • #3
    • 3rd Oct 17, 11:54 AM
    • #3
    • 3rd Oct 17, 11:54 AM
    There have been numerous complaints on MSE about the Energy Ombudsman and your treatment is bog standard; i.e. a £50 or £100 'goodwill' payment without any meaningful investigation.

    On a matter of principle I attempted to take my case further and after months I simply gave up.

    There is another recent thread about appealing the Ombudsman's decision.

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=73175472#post73175472

    The situation there is the same as yours in that you haven't lost money and neither the Energy companies, ombudsman or the small claims court will compensate you for the time you spend on the case.
    • jack_pott
    • By jack_pott 3rd Oct 17, 12:21 PM
    • 4,181 Posts
    • 5,309 Thanks
    jack_pott
    • #4
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:21 PM
    • #4
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:21 PM
    I think you misunderstand what Ombudsmen are for. They aren't there to adjudicate fairly in disputes, they are there to give the punters the runaround until they get p*ssed off enough to go away.
    I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.
    Friedrich Nietzsche
    • welshmoneylover
    • By welshmoneylover 3rd Oct 17, 12:26 PM
    • 2,696 Posts
    • 3,585 Thanks
    welshmoneylover
    • #5
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:26 PM
    • #5
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:26 PM
    Hello

    I've had an ongoing mare with Sc*ttish P*wer (Sorry for the obscene language) after moving in to a property where they had control of supply.

    I arranged a transfer as soon as I was aware who was the supplier, and attempted to pay my bill via a direct debit to Scottish Power. They never took the payments and then attempted to blame me, when the fault was at their end, I never got a clear explanation but someone didn't set up the DD correctly and payment was never taken.

    What followed was a series them trying to re-bill at a higher amount, adding late payment charges etc, until we requested a deadlock letter in order to take it to the Ombudsman.

    The letter contained a number of false statements, which they refused to amend, and they continued to harass us for payment AFTER the deadlock letter was issued, employing debt collectors in clear contravention of the Financial Conduct Authority statute CONC 7.14.1 - as I understand it, they are registered on the FCA register, and therefore legally bound to comply with their rules?

    The ombudsman rushed through an "investigation", reaching a decision despite being informed that I was waiting on SP providing recordings of phone calls, emails etc via a Subject Access Request; i.e. the Ombudsman investigator did not have access to the full evidence. They offered a derisory £100 "gesture of goodwill" due to "recognition of service shortfalls" - apparently, all SP had done wrong was failed to set up the DD, and their illegal harassment via weekly threatening letters and debt collection agencies (copies of which WERE supplied to the Ombudsman) were perfectly acceptable?

    Quote: "It is reasonable that you consumed energy at your time in the property on supply with it and therefore it is entitled to expect payment. Where a supplier does not successfully gain payment, it will complete its debt collection process. I note that the fault with not gaining payment is with Scottish Power and I have considered this as a service shortfall."

    Upon rejecting their initial proposal, I was told I had 14 days to supply "further evidence", i.e. the SAR, to Scottish Power, who failed to supply the requested SAR until day 14 of this period, making sending it to the Ombudsman impossible. I was told that they would not consider taking action against SP for their delay in supplying the SAR unless an additional complaint was raised with SP regarding the timescales - laughable.

    I find this decision to be a disgrace, to be quite honest. The bill was only for around £260 but it's the sheer principle that I am still expected to pay them £160 given the illegal manner in which they have acted. The Ombudsman's investigator has also made a number of false statements in their communication and has omitted to include very pertinent information to which they are now leaning on as justification for their decision.

    I'm not angry at the level of the financial award but how the investigation has been conducted - it is very slapdash, ignores key evidence and contains a number of false and illogical statements, and I wish to challenge the decision on these grounds.

    I'd like to know what my options are as far as challenging the Ombudsman decision. The decision has been made by an investigator who has advised I have "no right to appeal", however I am aware you can challenge a decision made by an investigator of the Financial Ombdusman, and have the case reviewed directly by an Ombudsman instead of an investigator, and was wondering (i) if this is also the case with the Energy Ombudsman and (ii) how I would go about escalating the complaint?
    Originally posted by moroc
    During this timeframe, what payments did you make to SP?

    If the answer is none, then SP would take you down the nonpayment route which does attract added charges.
    Be happy, it's the greatest wealth
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 12:38 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    moroc
    • #6
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:38 PM
    • #6
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:38 PM
    During this timeframe, what payments did you make to SP?

    If the answer is none, then SP would take you down the nonpayment route which does attract added charges.
    Originally posted by welshmoneylover
    None - I disputed the bill as they kept sending estimated bills, despite being given accurate opening and closing meter readings. Their original estimated bill was over three times what I actually owed.

    I agreed to pay an amount of £260, they failed to take the payment, and then rebilled at a different, higher amount, having changed their per unit costs to a higher cost. I disputed this again.

    SP failed to address the dispute and so I advised I wanted the account deadlocked in October 2016. They continued to pursue payment despite this being against the FCA code of conduct - I had a conversation with the debt collection agency who were just as annoyed as I was because SP were wasting their time by employing them, as they are not legally allowed to act on a deadlocked account!

    I checked out the thread linked here; my experience mirrors this exactly, no consideration paid to the merits of the case at all, which is why I'd like to challenge it.
    Last edited by moroc; 03-10-2017 at 3:14 PM.
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 12:40 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    moroc
    • #7
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:40 PM
    • #7
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:40 PM
    There have been numerous complaints on MSE about the Energy Ombudsman and your treatment is bog standard; i.e. a £50 or £100 'goodwill' payment without any meaningful investigation.

    On a matter of principle I attempted to take my case further and after months I simply gave up.

    There is another recent thread about appealing the Ombudsman's decision.

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?p=73175472#post73175472

    The situation there is the same as yours in that you haven't lost money and neither the Energy companies, ombudsman or the small claims court will compensate you for the time you spend on the case.
    Originally posted by Cardew
    I'm not interested in being compensated for the time spent, I'm just aggrieved that they are calling the issue a "service shortfall" rather than what it is - deliberate harassment and bullying tactics with the intent to gain money by illegal means - think we call that extortion usually! The way I see it, SP have broken the law in their pursuit of the money during deadlock proceedings, so my "ideal resolution" was that the debt be written off completely, which the Ombudsman have failed to deliver.
    • Hengus
    • By Hengus 3rd Oct 17, 12:41 PM
    • 4,352 Posts
    • 2,559 Thanks
    Hengus
    • #8
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:41 PM
    • #8
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:41 PM
    The obvious question is 'what resolution were you were seeking by escalating this complaint'? You do have the right to raise a complaint against The Energy Ombudsman but, at most, all you will get is an apology for poor service if my recent experience is anything to go by.
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 12:44 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    moroc
    • #9
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:44 PM
    • #9
    • 3rd Oct 17, 12:44 PM
    The obvious question is 'what resolution were you were seeking by escalating this complaint'? You do have the right to raise a complaint against The Energy Ombudsman but, at most, all you will get is an apology for poor service if my recent experience is anything to go by.
    Originally posted by Hengus
    For the full bill to be written off (£260-ish)
    • NineDeuce
    • By NineDeuce 3rd Oct 17, 1:11 PM
    • 282 Posts
    • 227 Thanks
    NineDeuce
    I have got less compensation from other people for even worse service to be honest.... £100 can get you several Bargain Buckets....
    • footyguy
    • By footyguy 3rd Oct 17, 1:36 PM
    • 3,671 Posts
    • 1,462 Thanks
    footyguy
    I'm somewhat confused as to why you are confused at what actions are open to you.

    Whenever I have used the OS, I was never in any doubt as to what options were still open to me.

    Typically you make a complaint to the OS. That complaint is acknowledged and you are invited to offer up to the OS any additional evidence you may have regarding the complaint that you have already not supplied.

    The OS contacts the supplier involved for their side of the story, and any evidence they care to provide the OS.

    The OS then looks at both sides of the story and makes a decision.
    (this sometimes involves them contacting you and invariably the supplier, to ensure the they are fully aware of what each party is suggesting, and to gauge the likely response to the decision they are likely to come to)

    You are then provided with that decision by the Investigating Officer.
    You can either accept or reject (rejection is also deemed response if you do not reply in stated time) , or usually you can ask for teh matter to be reviewed at a higher level if you think it is fundamentally flawed.
    You need to give the resons why you think it is fundamentally flawed, together with any appropriate evidence if necessary.

    If requested, (and a appropriate reason given) to have the matter reviewed at a higher level, that is then done.

    You then get a final decision. You either accept or reject it (or again it is deemed to be rejected if you do not respond within the stated time). It clearly states there is no further option to challenge the decision with the OS.

    You are also told of your available options if you do reject the decision, and that usually is limited to legal action against the supplier (because there is no further arbitration, and the supplier is under no obligation to discuss the matter directly with you once you instruct the OS)

    Whilst not included in the advice given, expect any proposed resolution suggested by the OS you have rejected to be brought up in court if you pursue litigation.
    Last edited by footyguy; 03-10-2017 at 1:53 PM.
    • trickytree1963
    • By trickytree1963 3rd Oct 17, 1:42 PM
    • 138 Posts
    • 78 Thanks
    trickytree1963
    For the full bill to be written off (£260-ish)
    Originally posted by moroc
    So you want to have energy and not pay for it. Good luck with that!
    • Hengus
    • By Hengus 3rd Oct 17, 1:46 PM
    • 4,352 Posts
    • 2,559 Thanks
    Hengus
    For the full bill to be written off (£260-ish)
    Originally posted by moroc
    You still have the right to take SP to Court; however, it helps if The EO actually supported your position.
    • footyguy
    • By footyguy 3rd Oct 17, 1:46 PM
    • 3,671 Posts
    • 1,462 Thanks
    footyguy
    My complaint in brief;

    I complained to the Ombudsman about Scottish Power because of...
    - repeated inaccurate billing, eventually resulting in a dispute
    - an eventual final bill was agreed, and a payment via direct debit agreed (to be paid over the course of three months), however SP never collected the money via DD
    - SP then re-billed at a higher amount, which I disputed
    - SP then re-billed again, adding a late payment charge, which I again disputed
    - Tired of their incompetence, I requested the account deadlocked
    - SP supplied a deadlock letter filled with inaccuracies / false statements, which they refused to amend
    - SP billed AGAIN after the account was deadlocked, adding another late payment charge
    - SP illegally employed debt collectors to chase the deadlocked bill and sent regular threatening letters, text messages and phone calls

    I'm p'd off with the Ombudsman investigator as they...

    - conducted their investigation despite being advised, and acknowledging, that I was awaiting material being supplied from SP after making a Subject Access Request
    - offered a £100 goodwill gesture, ignoring pertinent information such as the contravention of FCA CONC 7.14.1 and the harrassment by SP, clear evidence of which was provided
    - imposed a 14-day deadline to deliver further information, during which SP eventually delivered the SAR by post on day 13
    - communicated to me that I had to deliver the SAR pack to the Ombudsman investigator by close of play the same day - illogical and frankly baffling request
    - made false statements regarding the transparency of their investigation, i.e. claiming all timescales are made clear prior to raising the claim - this is simply not true, they are not listed anywhere in the complaints section of their website or the documentation supplied after a complaint is raised, and were not mentioned in any of the communications from the Ombudsman investigators
    Originally posted by moroc
    What do you need from an SAR?
    Are you suggesting you compalined to the supplier, let alone the OS, without having all the necessary facts to hand?

    If you just wanted the SAR as back up evidence, you don't need it.
    In my experince, you offer up whatever evidence you have to the ombudsman.
    The supplier gives whatever evidence they may have (and wish to share with the OS) in defence.

    In my case, the OS told me that as my records seemed full & comprehensive, and the information supplied by the supplier to the OS was described by him as 'scarce', he said he would accept my version of events as a truthful account.
    Last edited by footyguy; 03-10-2017 at 1:50 PM.
    • footyguy
    • By footyguy 3rd Oct 17, 1:48 PM
    • 3,671 Posts
    • 1,462 Thanks
    footyguy
    For the full bill to be written off (£260-ish)
    Originally posted by moroc
    I should advise you that according to another MSEer who wrote about their experience of taking a energy billing dispute to court, the court gave the MSEer short shift allegedly saying "you used it, you pay for it"
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 3:03 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    moroc
    I'm somewhat confused as to why you are confused at what actions are open to you.

    Whenever I have used the OS, I was never in any doubt as to what options were still open to me.

    Typically you make a complaint to the OS. That complaint is acknowledged and you are invited to offer up to the OS any additional evidence you may have regarding the complaint that you have already not supplied.

    The OS contacts the supplier involved for their side of the story, and any evidence they care to provide the OS.

    The OS then looks at both sides of the story and makes a decision.
    (this sometimes involves them contacting you and invariably the supplier, to ensure the they are fully aware of what each party is suggesting, and to gauge the likely response to the decision they are likely to come to)

    You are then provided with that decision by the Investigating Officer.
    You can either accept or reject (rejection is also deemed response if you do not reply in stated time) , or usually you can ask for teh matter to be reviewed at a higher level if you think it is fundamentally flawed.
    You need to give the resons why you think it is fundamentally flawed, together with any appropriate evidence if necessary.

    If requested, (and a appropriate reason given) to have the matter reviewed at a higher level, that is then done.

    You then get a final decision. You either accept or reject it (or again it is deemed to be rejected if you do not respond within the stated time). It clearly states there is no further option to challenge the decision with the OS.

    You are also told of your available options if you do reject the decision, and that usually is limited to legal action against the supplier (because there is no further arbitration, and the supplier is under no obligation to discuss the matter directly with you once you instruct the OS)

    Whilst not included in the advice given, expect any proposed resolution suggested by the OS you have rejected to be brought up in court if you pursue litigation.
    Originally posted by footyguy
    Direct quote from their email;

    "We have now reached the end of our investigation process and there is no opportunity to appeal.

    You now have to decide if you agree to accept our decision in full and final settlement of the complaint.

    If you agree, we will contact Scottish Power and confirm that you accept this in full and final settlement of the complaint.

    Scottish Power will have up to 28 days in which to implement the remedy.

    Please contact me using the details below to indicate your decision. You must confirm your response no later than 14 days from the date of this email."


    Why do I have "no opportunity to appeal"?
    Last edited by moroc; 03-10-2017 at 3:11 PM.
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 3:04 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    moroc
    I should advise you that according to another MSEer who wrote about their experience of taking a energy billing dispute to court, the court gave the MSEer short shift allegedly saying "you used it, you pay for it"
    Originally posted by footyguy
    I've got no intention of taking it to court as they don't recognise shi*tty service and debt collection harassment as grounds for complaint.
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 3:06 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    moroc
    So you want to have energy and not pay for it. Good luck with that!
    Originally posted by trickytree1963
    In light of their illegal involvement of debt collectors and the fact that I WOULD have paid the bill over 12 months ago if their incompetent staff could manage to collect a payment, then I think having the bill scrapped is a reasonable request, but thanks for your helpful and informative contribution nonetheless.
    • moroc
    • By moroc 3rd Oct 17, 3:10 PM
    • 24 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    moroc
    What do you need from an SAR?
    Are you suggesting you compalined to the supplier, let alone the OS, without having all the necessary facts to hand?

    If you just wanted the SAR as back up evidence, you don't need it.
    In my experince, you offer up whatever evidence you have to the ombudsman.
    The supplier gives whatever evidence they may have (and wish to share with the OS) in defence.

    In my case, the OS told me that as my records seemed full & comprehensive, and the information supplied by the supplier to the OS was described by him as 'scarce', he said he would accept my version of events as a truthful account.
    Originally posted by footyguy
    Recordings of phone calls which I was obviously unable to provide - a phone conversation took place last year where I agreed to pay the bill and provided my bank details to allow setup of a DD. SP failed to set up the payment; this contradicts a false statement in their deadlock letter which claimed I cancelled the DD - which was never set up in the first place. There are a number of falsehoods in their deadlock letter, which are contradictory to what I was told on the phone, they seem to have a severe issue with providing a consistent message.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 3rd Oct 17, 5:52 PM
    • 26,891 Posts
    • 13,039 Thanks
    Cardew
    I'm not interested in being compensated for the time spent, I'm just aggrieved that they are calling the issue a "service shortfall" rather than what it is - deliberate harassment and bullying tactics with the intent to gain money by illegal means - think we call that extortion usually! The way I see it, SP have broken the law in their pursuit of the money during deadlock proceedings, so my "ideal resolution" was that the debt be written off completely, which the Ombudsman have failed to deliver.
    Originally posted by moroc
    With respect you are seeking compensation, you want the £260 bill written off.

    Nobody on this forum is questioning the merits of your case, and the understandable frustration with SP. However if you continue with the case, it is likely the only result will be further frustration.
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