Final British Gas bill - closing read issue (Gas)

Hi folks, I wonder if you can help me.

I recently left British Gas (April) and chased my final bill which I received yesterday.

On checking my usage the closing meter read was shown on the bill as 915 M3 however the actual which I submitted to my new supplier was 871 M3.

On querying my new supplier they sent the following response, I just wondered if anyone had seen anything similar before? It seems really strange, I have dated photographs of my meter at each reading so I know I couldnt have given an incorrect reading.

"Thank you for your email.

Once we received your meter readings they are then sent off to a third party industry regulator who will validate the readings against data collected on your property. In 75% of cases they do prefer to use their own estimates instead of the customer readings and this is the way the energy industry works I'm afraid. This is out of the energy suppliers hands unless the estimated readings fall out of a certain tolerance of the readings the customer had provided.

These tolerances are as follows;

Gas: 125 units
Electricity: 250 units

If the readings are out of these tolerances we can dispute them however in this case it appears the difference is only 44units and therefore we would not be able to dispute this as we would just get rejected. We open your account with us on the same reading of 915 that your previous supplier has closed your account so you will not be charged twice for the energy you have used. I do apologise for any inconvenience this has caused.

If you require any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us."

Comments

  • Smodlet
    Smodlet Posts: 6,976
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    How much of an issue is this? Is the rate on your new tariff so much lower than on the old one? The main thing is that your old and new suppliers agree the closing/opening reading between them and do not hold things up while they dispute it, I would have thought.

    Is it actually 44 kwh or a difference of 44 on an old-style gas meter? If the latter, the amount in kwh would be in the thousands and reason for dispute. If it is 44 kwh, the difference in price will probably be pennies rather than pounds.
  • System
    System Posts: 178,065
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    Hi - welcome to the forum. This is how it works I am afraid. You will not pay for the same energy twice. If you look at the 2 unit prices you will only pay the difference times 44.

    You do need to check that the opening and closing readings are the same.

    Why do they do this? Some people do not provide a reading on switch and some consumers have been known to lie if they can see a few £s in it.
  • graeme647
    graeme647 Posts: 14
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    Hi, it basically boils down to £5 detriment to me so granted not much but I'm not keen on giving away money.

    The variance is in M3 so the KWH is approximately 500. Although my suppliers do agree I just don't understand why this would happen, my electricity closed at exactly my expected figure.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    This situation comes up frequently. I believe that the same computer algorithm that is used to estimate consumption on bills is used. It uses previous history and weather to estimate a figure on any given day.

    Going back a few years when prices were rising steeply there was a tendency for customers to fudge their meter readings and submit higher readings to the new supplier. In fact several posters on MSE openly suggest this 'fraud' to minimise bills.

    With prices often falling these days it would not surprise me if the opposite happened.

    I am not in any way suggesting this has happened in your case; and there are many reasons why 'the computer' has over-estimated consumption e.g. several previous estimated bills, absence from the property, new boiler etc.


    However we are 'only' talking about a difference of approx. 500kWh; which if your new tariff is, say, 0.5p/kWh cheaper is a difference of £2.50.

    That said if you wish to dispute the matter, I have little doubt you will get the £2.50 refunded.

    P.S. I have just taken a dated photograph of my meter, the date shows clearly it was taken on 13th September 2016;)
  • System
    System Posts: 178,065
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    graeme647 wrote: »
    Hi, it basically boils down to £5 detriment to me so granted not much but I'm not keen on giving away money.

    The variance is in M3 so the KWH is approximately 500. Although my suppliers do agree I just don't understand why this would happen, my electricity closed at exactly my expected figure.

    You have my sympathy. I had a switch this time last year where the estimated gas reading was 105CM3s in the old supplier's failure. A dispute could not be raised. It took me 3 1/2 months to reach the opening reading with my new supplier. When pressed, they did cover the small unit price difference.

    Energy industry procedures are imho worthy of a Third World country.. Electricity annual projections are revised each time the meter is read. For gas, this revision (the Annual Quantity) is revised only once a year. This is why gas tends to be estimated on switch rather than electricity.

    The suppliers know that the full roll-out of smart meters will solve this problem.
  • graeme647
    graeme647 Posts: 14
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    Thanks Cardew, very comprehensive answer there. I appreciate the point that photos can be manipulated, this point was more about me being sure that I had checked the reading correctly though rather than trying to present it as proof to a third party but I take your point.

    The property itself is a newbuild and this was the first and last bill from the vendor however the hosue sits where a previous much older and less energy efficient property once sat (with the same address) so perhaps this is the reason that it was expected the gas usage would be more.

    Although I appreciate the regulators reasoning I do find it fairly offensive that they would assume dishonesty but hey ho, query closed I guess! After all it's only £5...
  • dogshome
    dogshome Posts: 3,877
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    Is the OP just lucky?

    My memory banks tell me that the "3rd party industry regulator" was brought into being in 2002 when the Industries lobbyists managed to turn privatisation on it's head, by waving the banner 'Competion will control Prices' at the Govt headed by Tony Blair

    Prior to this each distribution area had just one owner, who wasn't allowed to have any other interests in the Industry, ie Power Generation or Distribution, and Prices were controlledby Ofgem, who actually did a good job at that time.

    With the free-for-all introduced in the 2002 Act where a company could own anything or everything, ( No surprise that all the Big 6 are all power generators), but with the customer given the choice of who they dealt with, legislation had to be cobbled together to monitor customer movements from one company to another - So the 3rd Party Regulator was born and with it the leeway on Switch meter readings

    So the Elec leeway is 250 units and as Elec meters measure in KWh, at todays prices the 250 will produce a charge of around £37.50+VAT

    However, Imperial Gas meters were the order of the day in 2002, with Metric meters only just being introduced.
    125 units on an Imperial meter will equate to appx.3938 Kwh, around £118 + VAT at todays prices.

    YES, the gaining company and losing company can be harried into both billing on the same meter readings, but it can take weeks and a great deal of perseverance - I know I've been there
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    Dogshome,

    I think the system with the 'third party regulator'(see BG's response in the OP's first post) has been fairly recently introduced.

    I have an annex with tiny gas/electricity consumption most of the year; albeit it can increase dramatically if someone is using this annex. On a couple of occasions when I have changed supplier my accurate meter reading has been changed by 2 gas units(m3) and about 10kWh electric. This is because 2 gas units represents a high percentage of The Computer's' estimated consumption.

    My point being that there certainly wasn't a tolerance of 125/250 units for gas electricity.
  • graeme647
    graeme647 Posts: 14
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    Update - I queried the tread with British Gas at the same time as I asked my new supplier, they just came back to me and have credited the difference, I.e adjusted my final bill to 871 m3.

    So despite it really not being their fault that's pretty good customer service to be fair, especially with a same day response.
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