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Back billing clarification needed here

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ThrilledThrilled Forumite
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I switched from Scottish Power 22 May 2020, the was bill not sent, I complain in Sept and get bill in October, bill is wrong and I complain to customer services and then escalate to complaints dept.  4th May 2021 they phone saying bill coming.  How far back can they bill in May 2021?  

Its not clear to me if they bill back only 12 months or if they can charge for a maximum of 12 months historic use.  If the former, does the point from which they can back-bill keep moving or is it set when they issue me with their forecoming bill or has it already been set?   I have seen different wordings of the 12 month rule on consumer sites

The original bill is for 17 months Jan 2019 to May 2020, on the phone they say they will remove the first 12 months.  This was minutes ago, so I have yet to see what they actually come up with, but they were talking about 3-4 months to be billed.

I need to know what I legally have to pay, I realise that once the bill is issued it can be further discussed with them, and beyond that the case potentially taken to the ombundsman for what would effectively be a binding decision.  I would certainly not want to do either of those without being precisely clear of my obligations and any potential for the bill to go up.
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  • edited 4 May at 4:44PM
    DolorDolor Forumite
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    edited 4 May at 4:44PM
    The principle of Back Billing is explained in this paragraph:

    Quote:  The core element of Ofgem's rules around back-billing is that an energy supplier can't seek additional payment for unbilled energy that was used more than 12 months before the error was detected and a corrected bill issued. Unquote

    A bill was due in May 2020, and I assume that all bills prior to the Final Bill were correct? I doubt that the supplier is going to write off any charges less payments already made.  The best that you can expect is compensation for a late Final Bill but it is not unreasonable of them to ask why you waited 4 months to query it?

    https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/how-switch-energy-supplier-and-shop-better-deal/compensation-if-there-s-energy-switch-problem
  • edited 4 May at 4:44PM
    welshmoneyloverwelshmoneylover Forumite
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    edited 4 May at 4:44PM
    not sure  if you are talking about a Final bill from Scottish power when you switched away from them? Or your current supplier?

    Be happy, it's the greatest wealth :)
  • ThrilledThrilled Forumite
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    If the correct bill is only being sent now, can they only bill back 12 months from now?

    Its the final bill from Scottish on an account that transferred out on 22nd May 2020.

    I waited to give them a chance, even then it took them a month to send the wrong bill.  By May 2020 I'd had 18 months of admin nightmare from them.

    The issue was very odd as they created it by moving charges between accounts, payments between accounts, then refunding some payments on one account and moving charges to another.  This was after they inisted on opening an account in the name of a dead person after his account was transferred to them when his existing supplier closed, at which point he was alive.  Automated account transfers happen a lot with these cheapo providers that fail, having an account holder die mid-transfer shouldn't have caused 2 years of aggravation.  When I moved from Scottish they even managed to get British Gas to put the boiler care in the wrong name.

    My attitude now is to only pay the legal minimum, and my ability to pay is not much better being unemployed.  I am aware of the SP Hardshipfund and started the application process with them 6 months ago, which had to stop as SP didn't get a bill together.
  • edited 4 May at 6:30PM
    DolorDolor Forumite
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    edited 4 May at 6:30PM
    Thrilled said:
    If the correct bill is only being sent now, can they only bill back 12 months from now?

    Its the final bill from Scottish on an account that transferred out on 22nd May 2020.

    I waited to give them a chance, even then it took them a month to send the wrong bill.  By May 2020 I'd had 18 months of admin nightmare from them.

    The issue was very odd as they created it by moving charges between accounts, payments between accounts, then refunding some payments on one account and moving charges to another.  This was after they inisted on opening an account in the name of a dead person after his account was transferred to them when his existing supplier closed, at which point he was alive.  Automated account transfers happen a lot with these cheapo providers that fail, having an account holder die mid-transfer shouldn't have caused 2 years of aggravation.  When I moved from Scottish they even managed to get British Gas to put the boiler care in the wrong name.

    My attitude now is to only pay the legal minimum, and my ability to pay is not much better being unemployed.  I am aware of the SP Hardshipfund and started the application process with them 6 months ago, which had to stop as SP didn't get a bill together.
    The legal minimum is that Scottish Power takes you to Court for the amount due. Being angry at a supplier is not a good way to deal with them. Scottish Power is at fault for not raising the Final Bill within 6 weeks of the switch and you are due fixed compensation for the error. Trying to play the BackBilling card for a period covering May 2020 to now when you are not a customer isn’t going to work. Backbilling will only come in to play if you have not received any bill within the period May 2019 to May 2020 AND you have made efforts to get one. If that was the case, the supplier would be required to write off any charges prior to May 2019 less any payments already made. You would still be liable for all energy consumed during the period May 2019 to May 2020.
  • ThrilledThrilled Forumite
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    I did get bills, I paid them, they then juggled those charges and payments between accounts, refunded some payments to the dead person estate account and hit me with the bill as an individual as the final bill on switching, but they didn't activate it or something until I complained.

    As far as I can see they created a mess and have taken the best part of a year to deal with it, my understanding of backbilling was that if they get it wrong and the customer didn't try to avoid paying, then the supplier is limited in asking for money a year later, I'm just not sure how limted.  
  • edited 4 May at 6:59PM
    DolorDolor Forumite
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    edited 4 May at 6:59PM
    It doesn’t work like that. The billing that you are talking about re BackBilling is May 2019 to May 2020,  not May 2020 until now. During the latter period, you were not a Scottish Power customer. BackBilling does not write off the first 12 months. For example, if you receive a bill in Jan 2019 and despite your efforts there were no more bills until March 2020, then the supplier might write off all charges from Jan 2019 to March 2019 LESS any direct debits paid. The aim of BackBilling is to avoid bill shock.

    Using your logic, no company in the land would have the legal right to correct a bill when the law states that they have up 6 years to correct the error and make a claim for payment before the Statute of Limitations kicks in. You are entitled to some automatic compensation for the late Final Bill, and you could press for a goodwill customer gesture because of the billing errors and delay but, in my view, that’s it.
  • ThrilledThrilled Forumite
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    The first couple of months are settled.
    The next 12 written off.  The ones charged to my late father.  Initially they were going to do this, then someone chuckling to himself as he did it decide not, and now its been done again.

    0-4.6 month are to be billed.  Some of these were paid by me and refunded to the estate and some come between the switch order and it being processed that were never billed for.  Right now I half doubt that these months will have a correct tariff, I believe a lower than original tariff is fine just not a higher one.  My concern is that pushing about this section will give them space to reopen the written off component. 

    If they get that bill wrong again for how long am I expected to keep asking to be billed and when does it become their problem?

    I really don't want then to turn around and ask for 17 months worth down the line just because a different customer service person takes that call.
  • welshmoneyloverwelshmoneylover Forumite
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    How how was your account opened by SP? Did you supply readings when you moved in or was you an executor of your late father’s estate?
    sorry but I am confused about the last post when you state payments were moved around; this may happen if there is a delay in opening an account correctly with the date and reads supplied for that date.
    Be happy, it's the greatest wealth :)
  • ThrilledThrilled Forumite
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    Account opened automatically by SP as instructed by the regulator.  SP were months behind in dealing with the accounts, so they claimed not in a position to deal with closing an account before it opened.  The account naming issue stopped me from having a smart meter, so a lot of the bills were estimates, with the final reading taken as official.  In aggregate the energy use is probably roughly accurate, however so far the bills have not been charged at the correct tariff or a lower one.  SP had the least effect bereavement system of the the agencies and companies we had to deal with, none of the others caused any aggravation at all.

    The juggling of charges initially happened a year into the account being at SP, and then in May 2020 for the final bills, and then again today when I heard that 12 months were being waived.  They were apparently unable to simply switch the names, and had to close one account and open a new one, this happened as the super saver tariff I had switched to was vanished from their system and the account moved back to a default one - they preferred to eat the compensation.  That super saver had really cheap gas and they killed it mid-winter, just breached the contract and in response to complaint said 'well you can switch again.' 
  • MWTMWT Forumite
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    Sounds like this was a SoLR transfer from a previous failed supplier, that gives SP considerable latitude on matters like the back-billing rules and if you add in the bereavement related issues as well it is hard to make any definitive statement on how back-billing would be applied to the account, but in general I would say that if they are waiving the earliest 12 months of the original bill then that is a good result and it is unlikely that you'd get much out of the Ombudsman trying to argue for more due to the problems which occurred after you left.
    ... but if you want to try you can, but it will not be with any certainty and in my view at least with some negativity on your prospects if they have already waived the earliest 12 months...

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