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can they do this? Taking £700 direct debit with 1 days notice!!

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blue_skies
blue_skies Posts: 15 Forumite
oh help - I'm in such a mess about this.

I moved to this house in Oct 08 and stayed with Utilita for gas supply after the last occupants told me they were the most competitive.

I set up the account and was told that based on the prior occupants that the monthly bills would be £62 by direct debit - fine with me.

All was going well and I had paid by month since. Then this weekend 2 letters/bills arrived. They both arrived by post on Saturday (11th?) dated 6th, but with a big stamp on the outside from the post office saying that the postage had been underpaid so they had been treated as 2nd class post.

Inside the first bill it said that I had a debit balance owing, for last quarter of last year - this confused me straight away as we are now in April so why haven't they billed me beforehand ?? Why not in Jan 09?? Then I saw that in addition to the monthly payments made, they calculated that we owed another £400!!! That was bad enough till I opened the other bill which was for 1st quarter this year, saying exactly the same thing but with another debit balance of £300!! Then it says that they will be taking the whole amount by direct debit on Tuesday of £700+

How the hell can they have let me be paying monthly happily thinking we were reasonably up to date, then whammy me with this?? How can that be right? And how can they legally take £700 from me with no notice at all? Never mind I don't have the money in the first place (which I don't, I live hand to mouth and £700 is something that would take me MONTHS to pay off) but even if I did, surely not many people have the ability to swallow a £700 payment without notice? I don't even have time to cancel the direct debit as it will be too late - I'm going to incur horrendous charges and be incredibly in debt and I have no idea whether they can do this to me?

Not to mention that they said £62 was the correct payment - it's only a small terraced house and the previous family here were home all day and we are out at work all day. Plus we use an open fire in the winter (they didn't use the fires because of small children) and nowhere near the hot water a family of 5 would have done (it's just the 2 of us). I am totally baffled because based on what they are actually charing me the maths works out that we should have been paying more like £170 a month for gas alone for a terraced house - !!!!!

Can someone advise where I stand? I'm in such a tizz over this, it's ruined my weekend and kept me up all night last night with worry and looking like the same again tonight......
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  • Rachie004
    Rachie004 Posts: 64 Forumite
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    Hi, I'm not sure how correct my advice is but I'm sure someone with more knowledge will be along shortly to tell me that I'm wrong

    From what I understand from having problems with utility companies myself, I believe that they have an obligation to bill you correctly and promptly and should you build a debt with them they should allow you as long to pay it off as you've taken to build the debt with them. Hopefully someone will be along with better information shortly

    I'm grasping at straws here but any chance you have telephone/internet banking that you can cancel your direct debit with in the mean time?
  • chocdonuty
    chocdonuty Posts: 929 Forumite
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    I don't think anything will be taken tomorrow, being a bank holiday but the call centres should be open and hopefully you should be able to cancel the dd to stop any charges and give you time to sort something out with the utility comapny.
    Is it an estimated bill or has the meter been read? it makes a difference, hopefully in your favor :)
    :hello: Hiya, I'm single mom, avid moneysaver and freecycler, sometimes :huh: but definatly :D
  • blue_skies
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    Rachie - I've cancelled the direct debit now, but have a sneaking feeling that once a DD is in the pipeline cancelling it sometimes isn't instant, and I'm wondering that even if I've cancelled it today, maybe it's too late and the transaction will still go through? I hope you are right though, do you think that it will have cancelled if I've cancelled it today?

    chocdonutty - The readings on the bills (3 on each) are 2 estimated and 1 read, so I suppose I need to check too. However last "read" was March so it's not going to be that different I suppose?

    I'm just so upset about it - surely they should have billed us for Q4 2008 at the end of Q4 2008, then at least we would have had some warning this was going to happen again, or assessed what was going on.

    Another sleepless night for me, I think... ruined my easter to say the least.
  • Kavanne
    Kavanne Posts: 5,093 Forumite
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    You need to leave 3 working days when cancelling a DD so it will probably still go through.

    You need to call the bank tomorrow and say that the DD is incorrect, you weren't informed of it, whatever, and they should refund it straight away.

    Then call your energy supplier and ask what the hell is going on.!!

    But just fyi, I now pay my energy by DD and they only bill me every 6 months.
    Kavanne
    Nuns! Nuns! Reverse!

    'I do my job, do you do yours?'

  • blue_skies
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    Will bank call centres be open tomorrow then? Thought seeing as it's a BH they might not be...?
  • Kavanne
    Kavanne Posts: 5,093 Forumite
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    blue_skies wrote: »
    Will bank call centres be open tomorrow then? Thought seeing as it's a BH they might not be...?
    What is the bank in question?
    Kavanne
    Nuns! Nuns! Reverse!

    'I do my job, do you do yours?'

  • blue_skies
    blue_skies Posts: 15 Forumite
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    Natwest.....

    Thank you...
  • KimYeovil
    KimYeovil Posts: 6,156 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post
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    Cancelling a debit is more likely a problem the other way - you cancel a debit the day after a wanted debit is paid and you want it to go through but that final payment is also cancelled because it hasn't cleared.

    As to the size of the payments, you have the meters in your home. The meters aren't in the suppliers' billing offices. You can look at the meter now and then to see how much you are using. If the bills are wrong or payments are wrong you are the one in the position to know about this. You knew you were underpaying. It is silly to complain. Are people really this lacking in life skills?

    By the way, are you sure you aren't paying, in addition, for the previous occupants' energy? Did you supply the correct starting reads?
  • Kavanne
    Kavanne Posts: 5,093 Forumite
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    blue_skies wrote: »
    Natwest.....

    Thank you...
    Yes open today
    Kavanne
    Nuns! Nuns! Reverse!

    'I do my job, do you do yours?'

  • spiro
    spiro Posts: 6,403 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
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    You to check that the start reading for the last quarter of 2008 bill matches the reading you gave them when you moved in. If this reading is an estimate then it may be well out from wat should be you starting point which means you are paying for the old occupants gas.
    IT Consultant in the utilities industry specialising in the retail electricity market.

    4 Credit Card and 1 Loan PPI claims settled for £26k, 1 rejected (Opus).
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