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  • FIRST POST
    • Imnoexpert
    • By Imnoexpert 6th Dec 17, 8:16 PM
    • 289Posts
    • 120Thanks
    Imnoexpert
    Elderly relative signed up to 55 month business contract
    • #1
    • 6th Dec 17, 8:16 PM
    Elderly relative signed up to 55 month business contract 6th Dec 17 at 8:16 PM
    To my horror a relative in their 80s asked for my help. They signed up with a business supplier on a 55 month contract for supply of gas to their house. They have 18 months remaining and talking to friends now realise they are paying too much. They phoned and asked to break the contract and have been told NO.

    I estimate they have been paying £5-600 more than they could have per anum. Relative doesn't remember why they took it out. I have a copy of the general terms but no evidence of what if anything they signed. I have a copy of the sales pitch letter from 2014 which is very misleading and scary.

    It is probably relevant to say that before retirement my relative was a professional (not in finance) with an office elsewhere so in a way could have been deemed a 'business'.

    Can anyone advise as to what my line should be with the company and what grounds I have to encourage them to terminate the contract! It feels to me like a case of mis-selling, and there seems moral grounds to waive any penalty (which I don't fully understand but looks like about £500).

    I haven't named the company publicly because I haven't contacted them yet and don't want to embarrass them if they play fair and see sense.

    Thanks.
Page 1
    • tacpot12
    • By tacpot12 6th Dec 17, 9:33 PM
    • 742 Posts
    • 642 Thanks
    tacpot12
    • #2
    • 6th Dec 17, 9:33 PM
    • #2
    • 6th Dec 17, 9:33 PM
    You might have more success with cancelling the contract due to unfair terms. If it was correct that your relative was a "business" when the contract was formed, they are not in business now. There should be some basis for a business to cancel the contract when it ceases trading.
    • EachPenny
    • By EachPenny 7th Dec 17, 12:33 AM
    • 3,262 Posts
    • 6,000 Thanks
    EachPenny
    • #3
    • 7th Dec 17, 12:33 AM
    • #3
    • 7th Dec 17, 12:33 AM
    It is probably relevant to say that before retirement my relative was a professional (not in finance) with an office elsewhere so in a way could have been deemed a 'business'.
    Originally posted by Imnoexpert
    Presumably they conducted their business at the office apart from perhaps a little work at home? Did they have any power hungry equipment used at home for business purposes?
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
    • Robin9
    • By Robin9 7th Dec 17, 7:01 AM
    • 1,936 Posts
    • 1,253 Thanks
    Robin9
    • #4
    • 7th Dec 17, 7:01 AM
    • #4
    • 7th Dec 17, 7:01 AM
    Do you know what the situation was when the contract was taken out ? Was your relative in business - in a premise or working at home.

    55 month contracts are rare - I've seen 5 years.
    Never pay on an estimated bill
    • dogshome
    • By dogshome 7th Dec 17, 8:44 AM
    • 2,941 Posts
    • 1,497 Thanks
    dogshome
    • #5
    • 7th Dec 17, 8:44 AM
    • #5
    • 7th Dec 17, 8:44 AM
    From my reading of the OP's post, the elderly couple live in a normal domestic residence and ran a business located at a different address.

    If this is the case, they have been bitten by one of the many sharks that infest the waters of Commercial Energy supply.
    The key defence to this contract is their Council Tax billing which will show
    charges on on the usual domestic tariff
    • footyguy
    • By footyguy 7th Dec 17, 9:00 AM
    • 3,863 Posts
    • 1,533 Thanks
    footyguy
    • #6
    • 7th Dec 17, 9:00 AM
    • #6
    • 7th Dec 17, 9:00 AM
    To my horror a relative in their 80s asked for my help. They signed up with a business supplier on a 55 month contract for supply of gas to their house. They have 18 months remaining and talking to friends now realise they are paying too much. They phoned and asked to break the contract and have been told NO.

    I estimate they have been paying £5-600 more than they could have per anum. Relative doesn't remember why they took it out. I have a copy of the general terms but no evidence of what if anything they signed. I have a copy of the sales pitch letter from 2014 which is very misleading and scary.

    It is probably relevant to say that before retirement my relative was a professional (not in finance) with an office elsewhere so in a way could have been deemed a 'business'.

    Can anyone advise as to what my line should be with the company and what grounds I have to encourage them to terminate the contract! It feels to me like a case of mis-selling, and there seems moral grounds to waive any penalty (which I don't fully understand but looks like about £500).

    I haven't named the company publicly because I haven't contacted them yet and don't want to embarrass them if they play fair and see sense.

    Thanks.
    Originally posted by Imnoexpert
    Consider getting PoA for this elderly relative who now appaers to be suffering from buyers remorse ... but alarmingly can't remember why they bought the product/service in the first place.

    If granted, then ensure you read all the terms and conditions that your elderly relative agreed to abide by; there will be a way out, but it may be in 55 months time, although usuallly with business tariffs, the supplier requires quite a long advance notice to quit (e.g. 6 months)

    If you don't get PoA , there's nothing you can do; it's not your contract and I very much doubt the supplier will even talk to you about it as a result.
    • House Martin
    • By House Martin 7th Dec 17, 10:43 AM
    • 710 Posts
    • 618 Thanks
    House Martin
    • #7
    • 7th Dec 17, 10:43 AM
    • #7
    • 7th Dec 17, 10:43 AM
    It was nt uncommon to find a domestic property registered as a business address on my meter reading rounds.
    . The original occupier would have linked the house to the main business simply as an economic measure to reclaim VAT or even possibly claim it for income tax expenses as well. It would only be suitable if they had a good deal in the first place with primarily electricity rates.
    Some business deals had excellent electric tariffs, others are dreadful. The original contract may well have been worth it but its probably now lapsed to punitive rates on a default tariff. I have seen standing charges at a ridiculous £1 a day. One small unit I saw was paying £340 a year standing charges just for a small imperial gas meter which was nt even using gas and never had from day one.
    The elderly couple need to now register the property as wholly domestic with no links to a business.This will mean proving it to the supplier by showing the council tax rating and I think this way they could get out of the very poor business rates contract.
    Last edited by House Martin; 07-12-2017 at 11:06 AM.
    • Imnoexpert
    • By Imnoexpert 7th Dec 17, 5:29 PM
    • 289 Posts
    • 120 Thanks
    Imnoexpert
    • #8
    • 7th Dec 17, 5:29 PM
    Thanks everyone
    • #8
    • 7th Dec 17, 5:29 PM
    Thanks everyone

    House Martin
    Think you are about right that there may have been a perceived benefit in doing this a while ago. I have found out there ware previous contracts so this has been going on since at least 2010. At least the 'deal' isn't as bad as some you have seen.

    Dogs home
    yes bitten by sharks is appropriate. Sharks clothed in the garb of big multi-national companies and no doubt incentivising' their sales force.

    Others
    Thanks. No power hungry equipment. No chance of a POA. I'm dealing with proud elderly folk who are only now asking for help. No idea what was agreed in the past, though I have the 'general terms'. I agree the company won't want to talk to me. I'll try though.

    Seems like the 'no longer a business' idea is a good one.
    • Raxiel
    • By Raxiel 7th Dec 17, 8:21 PM
    • 469 Posts
    • 244 Thanks
    Raxiel
    • #9
    • 7th Dec 17, 8:21 PM
    • #9
    • 7th Dec 17, 8:21 PM
    ...No chance of a POA. I'm dealing with proud elderly folk who are only now asking for help. No idea what was agreed in the past, though I have the 'general terms'. I agree the company won't want to talk to me. I'll try though.
    ...
    Originally posted by Imnoexpert
    You shouldn't need POA to get them to talk to you, all it should take is your relative phoning (with you there preferably), confirming their identity and then informing the company they are authorising you to deal with it on their behalf, and that they want a note on the account to that effect.

    After all, it's supposed to be a business account. It's not like Richard Branson has to personally ring round the suppliers for Virgin HQ
    • Imnoexpert
    • By Imnoexpert 8th Dec 17, 3:25 PM
    • 289 Posts
    • 120 Thanks
    Imnoexpert
    I am the OP. I hope this is the last word.

    When I phoned, the first line customer service played a straight bat and said there was no way the contract could be broken. Even when I started politely mentioning, terms of the contract, proof of verbal contract, misselling, vulnerable old person, residential customer, treating customers fairly, complaints department, pr contact and even after she went off the phone to consult for 10 minutes. I then got through to someone more sensible and it seem I just need to send them an email saying it is a domestic premises and they will cancel. I'm waiting for this in writing as it seems too good to be true.

    For interest this is what scared relative into a 55 month fix, and what actually happened!




    • Anthorn
    • By Anthorn 8th Dec 17, 3:55 PM
    • 3,261 Posts
    • 836 Thanks
    Anthorn
    start screaming "MIS-SELLING" and perhaps get a good pay-out.

    Here's what MSE says about it, updated 20 Feb 2017 so it's a bit dated:
    https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/Energy-mis-selling-complaints
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