Help regarding refund of overcharge by previous supplier caused by incorrect gas meter readings

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Hi all, bit of a long story here, but hoping I can get some advice and help about clawing back some previous overpayments...

Since the jump in gas prices in the last year it seemed like our gas bills had absolutely rocketed up. Almost to the extent that you felt you could barely turn the heating on as the next monthly reading would be sky high if you did. Initially I thought this was just because of the overall increase in prices and was affecting us like everyone else, but from talking to some friends in similar sized homes, our gas bills just seemed unrealistically expensive compared to theirs, whereas the electricity ones seemed fine in comparison. I had been doing monthly readings to ensure there was no issue with estimates, but that clearly wasn't the problem.

Finally, after a deep interrogation of our gas bills, our meter readings and everything in-between, I finally figured out the issue. I was providing gas readings in metric measures but was unknowingly being charged based on imperial readings. 

In late 2019 a man had come to the house to take meter readings and had smelled gas in the vicinity of the gas meter. The outcome of this was that our driveway became a bit like a building site for a few days and we ended up getting fitted with a new metric meter to replace the old imperial one. But nobody ever updated our new meter details on any systems or databases, and from then on we were being incorrectly charged - we just didn't notice it until the prices jumped up.

I'm honestly not sure if this was our responsibility to update the meter details, or the responsibility of the person that fitted it? We were certainly never told to update anyone else by the fitter and (until recently) I would have been clueless about the change, like probably most people I wouldn't have had any idea that some meters used different measurements to others, or that there was a central database that all meters are linked to.

Anyway, once I spotted the error I got in touch with our current energy supplier Shell, to raise the issue. It has been a bit of a slog to get everything updated with them, but it does look like we have been overcharged by about £750 for our gas for the time we have been with them since September 2021 - and we should eventually get this money credited back, hopefully as part of next month's bill.

However, the metric gas meter was fitted in late 2019 and we have only been with Shell since 2021, so the issue now is to see if we can claw back any of the overpayments we presumably made to our previous supplier, British Gas, during a period of about 18 months before we left them. I guess these will be lower amounts as gas prices were a lot lower back then (to the extent that we never actually realised we were being overcharged), but I would estimate that we probably overpaid by a few hundred pounds during that period, even taking account of the lower prices back then.

However, we had an online account with British Gas and everything seems to have been deactivated after we left, I can't log in online and we didn't receive bills by email, only on the online account, so I can't really check any of the history.

So basically my queries are these: are we entitled at this stage to seek a refund from British Gas due to the overpayments caused by the incorrect meter readings in 2020 and the first half of 2021? If so, how would we even begin to raise the issue with them, since they have deactivated all our online account info and we therefore can't provide any paperwork to prove that there was a significant error?

Any help appreciated - and I would definitely advise anyone who thinks their gas bill is ridiculously high to double check that the use of metric or imperial units on your meter matches the units used on your gas bill - definitely a life lesson learned here!

Comments

  • pochase
    pochase Posts: 3,449 Forumite
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    edited 14 February 2023 at 9:24PM
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    When you are talking to the old supplier, there were no wrong meter reading, the conversion from the reasing was wrong by the factor 2.83.

    A bit to late for this advise, but always download your bills. Do you still have details for your account? Even if not you can still query the wrong bills. Calling without having any details will not help you, in this case you need to write to them, eithe remail or real letter.

    The £750 you got back sounds very low in relation to your first statement that you had skyhigh bills. The £750 credit means that you had a bill of £1160 plus standing charges for the 1.5 years averages £65pm. Have you checked the correct calculation?

    WHat is your gas usage for a year?
  • Eirambler
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    Thanks for the reply. I have my British Gas customer reference number and all the details that would let me log into my account if it still existed. Unfortunately no saved copies of the old bills etc., they were all just stored on the account.

    I'll maybe try e-mailing them to explain what has happened and hopefully there might be a way to sort it out.

    In terms of the reimbursement for more recent usage from Shell, the exact details are hard to work out. They have confirmed that they have cancelled the gas usage element of all my previous bills as set out below (the standing charge and the electricity element of the bills obviously remain in place):

    30/9/21 £5.68          
    24/3/22 £773.12     
    31/3/22 £24.06          
    30/9/22 £442.99      
    9/10/22 £39.52
    8/11/22 £184.74      
    8/12/22 £254.89      
    11/2/23 £86.25 (VAT) 

    Total: £1811.25
                                        
    After the 8th of December they stopped billing me for a while, presumably while they tried to sort the mess out. They advise that they replaced these bills with the following charges, plus VAT at 5%:

    1/10/21        £3.42
    25/3/22   £469.15
    1/4/22          £8.53
    30/9/22   £156.94
    9/11/22     £79.47
    9/12/22     £89.40
    31/12/22 £110.04
    10/1/23     £33.44

    £950.39 + VAT

    So when you add in the VAT the difference is about £800, though the rebilling covers an extra month over the Christmas, so the total coming back would be a bit more than that again, closer to £1000 accounting for the usage in December/early January that is included in the rebilling.

    Does that look correct? What jumps out to me is that most of the rebilling numbers look about right in terms of the 2.83 recalculation from imperial to metric, but the one for 25/3/22 looks too high - but maybe there's another reason for that that I am missing?

    What a mess!
  • FreeBear
    FreeBear Posts: 14,855 Forumite
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    Eirambler said:
    Thanks for the reply. I have my British Gas customer reference number and all the details that would let me log into my account if it still existed. Unfortunately no saved copies of the old bills etc., they were all just stored on the account.

    I'll maybe try e-mailing them to explain what has happened and hopefully there might be a way to sort it out.
    First step would be to make a Subject Access Request and simply ask (demand) copies of all bills going back six years. Do not mention billing errors or anything to do with the meter change just yet. Once you have the data, you should be able to work out how much you have been overcharged, and then submit a formal complaint with view to a full refund.
    2019 isn't that long ago, so you can afford to take a little bit of time collating the information.
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  • pochase
    pochase Posts: 3,449 Forumite
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    Eirambler said:
    Thanks for the reply. I have my British Gas customer reference number and all the details that would let me log into my account if it still existed. Unfortunately no saved copies of the old bills etc., they were all just stored on the account.

    I'll maybe try e-mailing them to explain what has happened and hopefully there might be a way to sort it out.

    In terms of the reimbursement for more recent usage from Shell, the exact details are hard to work out. They have confirmed that they have cancelled the gas usage element of all my previous bills as set out below (the standing charge and the electricity element of the bills obviously remain in place):

    30/9/21 £5.68          
    24/3/22 £773.12     
    31/3/22 £24.06          
    30/9/22 £442.99      
    9/10/22 £39.52
    8/11/22 £184.74      
    8/12/22 £254.89      
    11/2/23 £86.25 (VAT) 

    Total: £1811.25
                                        
    After the 8th of December they stopped billing me for a while, presumably while they tried to sort the mess out. They advise that they replaced these bills with the following charges, plus VAT at 5%:

    1/10/21        £3.42
    25/3/22   £469.15
    1/4/22          £8.53
    30/9/22   £156.94
    9/11/22     £79.47
    9/12/22     £89.40
    31/12/22 £110.04
    10/1/23     £33.44

    £950.39 + VAT

    So when you add in the VAT the difference is about £800, though the rebilling covers an extra month over the Christmas, so the total coming back would be a bit more than that again, closer to £1000 accounting for the usage in December/early January that is included in the rebilling.

    Does that look correct? What jumps out to me is that most of the rebilling numbers look about right in terms of the 2.83 recalculation from imperial to metric, but the one for 25/3/22 looks too high - but maybe there's another reason for that that I am missing?

    What a mess!
    The new revised amount looks still to high for me. Please be aware that it is not ideal to work from billed amounts instead of KWh and unit rates but the follwoing should give you still an idea.

    1. The new bill for 25/03/2022


    I have removed the standing charge here as so |I only do the conversion by factor 2.83 for the gas used.

    As you can see your feeling that the new billed amount is to high is spot on.

    2. I have done the same for the whole billed amount.


    So the new bill is about 950.39 - 687.03 = £263.36 + 5% VAT = £276.53 still to high.

    Going from the 1811.25 billed minus the correct bill of 721.38 (both incl VAT) your credit should be in the region of 1089.87 and not £750 or £800.

    You need to query this with your provider. Did you get new invoices that show how they calculated the new billed amounts?

  • Eirambler
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    Thanks for the replies everyone. Yes, the invoice for the new amounts shows the breakdown of how they calculated the new bills, showing the opening and closing readings and then the formula that they used to create the amount.

    I'm going to need to go through it line by line this weekend to see where the discrepancy is, because I agree there seems to still be an overcharge of a few hundred pounds.

    I will also be doing a subject access request as recommended above, to get the background info from British Gas so that I can hopefully go in armed with all the necessary info when I look to get the refund from them also.

    Thanks again everyone, all very helpful.
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