Utility Warehouse liable for mistake?

Hello everyone,

 

I find myself in a predicament regarding a bill exceeding £3,000 from January to December 2023 for my two-bedroom flat, where I reside alone. This flat operates solely on electricity, including an electric water tank, a new feature for me as my previous residence relied on gas. Despite considering myself a low utility user due to being away frequently, I faithfully submit meter readings to UW online (without using the app or having a smart meter).

 

Upon moving in on November 26th, 2022, I enrolled with UW based on the information I provided online. I assumed that after a full month of usage and submitted meter readings, if my payment didn't adequately cover expenses, UW would contact me to adjust or discuss the tariff. Initially, my first bill was under £100, slightly short of my tariff payments. However, I anticipated owing more during colder months, which I expected to balance out in warmer seasons.

 

Subsequent bills showed a growing debt (reaching £150), but I believed it would even out eventually. By September 2023, the debt reached a concerning minus £255. Given the approaching colder months, on September 14th, I proactively reached out to UW, seeking to increase my payments and offer a meter reading. Shockingly, UW responded claiming they hadn't received any meter readings from me throughout the year, which left me confused and shocked.

 

While I couldn't recall specific dates, I was certain I'd submitted meter readings. I had received prompts via email to submit readings but couldn't find confirmation emails upon checking. Over the last three months, discussions with multiple UW employees consistently asserted that due to the absence of my readings, they had estimated my usage for nearly the entire year. They only factored in a meter reading I submitted on September 22nd, explaining the high bill.

 

Recently, during a conversation with UW, I mentioned the absence of my meter readings, and surprisingly, the UW representative acknowledged receiving and recording my readings on the following dates:

 

26.11.22 = 40506 (opening reading)

31.12.22 = 41959

31.03.23 = 45544

30.06.23 = 48465

22.09.23 = 51047

The representative also admitted that for some inexplicable reason, all the readings I had submitted were not incorporated until September 22nd. This revelation stunned me, as it directly contradicted UW's earlier claims of not having my readings when they indeed had them all along.

 

Had UW utilized my submitted readings, particularly the initial one from December 31st, 2022, I could have managed my usage more effectively. I would have been prompted to investigate and adjust the settings for the central heating and electric water tank much earlier (water tank being the main energy issue) preventing this financial issue.

 

Initially, I believed I couldn't dispute the amount consumed. Yet, reflecting on this, had UW incorporated my readings correctly, I could have managed my usage effectively.

Acknowledging UW's delayed use of my readings, I'm seeking a fair resolution to determine the accurate amount I owe.

I aim for a fair assessment as I just would have not ended up using as much energy as I would have seen this in the first full month bill IF they had used my readings.

 But how do I work out how much?

I don’t want them to just come back with an amount they think I owe (if they do reduce it). I need  out a figure to work with.

 

You help and thoughts would be much appreciated.

Kind regards…John


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Comments

  • *Edit* 
    The tariff i was on did not cover the £100 first bill. few short of around £30.
  • Robin9
    Robin9 Posts: 11,981
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    What actually is your electric heating - panel or water filled radiators with a great big storage tank ?   Both can be disastrous as you are seeing - you have an annual consumption of about 15,000 kWh and that's going to cost £4,500

    How did you estimate the annual consumption ? Did you base it on your previous gas heated flat ?  Electric typically will cost 3/4 times as much.


    Never pay on an estimated bill
  • QrizB
    QrizB Posts: 13,685
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    So from November 2022 to September 2023 you've used 10,500kWh?
    That's getting on for £3000-worth on the current standard variable tariff. It sounds to me as though UW's billing is likely to be correct.
    Can I assume this is on a single-rate tariff, and you have eg. panel heaters for space heating not storage heaters?
    N. Hampshire, he/him. Octopus Go elec & Tracker gas / Shell BB / Lyca mobi. Ripple Kirk Hill member.
    2.72kWp PV facing SSW installed Jan 2012. 11 x 247w panels, 3.6kw inverter. 30MWh generated, long-term average 2.6 Os.
    Ofgem cap table, Ofgem cap explainer. Economy 7 cap explainer. Gas vs E7 vs peak elec heating costs.
  • JSHarris
    JSHarris Posts: 374
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    edited 14 December 2023 at 4:17PM
    FWIW, I switched away from UW because their system for receiving meter readings was badly broken.  Very similar experience, I got an email prompt, submitted readings but had no acknowledgement.  When I phoned them (an interesting challenge in itself!) I found they had the readings and they confirmed that I had been over-paying by direct debit, so had built up a hefty credit balance. 

    Their customer services weren't great, to be honest, but as it happened this coincided with them hiking their off-peak electricity price by a lot, so I just switched supplier and (eventually) got a refund from UW.

    I'd be reluctant to switch back to UW, based on their poor systems and less than wonderful customer service, but I might give them another go if their off-peak pricing is still keen at the end of this month.
  • I don't think you will get much traction on this.  You will have to pay for the electricity you have used.  You might get a good will gesture due to the meter reading issue but wouldn't have thought more than that.  Did you check your monthly bills after submitting reads to check they had been billed?  Have you thought about getting a smart meter so you don't have to submit readings?
  • JSHarris
    JSHarris Posts: 374
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    edited 14 December 2023 at 5:24PM
    I fear you are right, @superkoopauk .  My experience was the same, with respect to UW meter readings not being properly responded to, but the opposite in terms of the impact to me, as they owed me a few hundred pounds.  They eventually refunded this (took about three months).  In the reverse situation I would fully expect a supplier to come after me for an under-paid account.
  • 400ixl
    400ixl Posts: 2,663
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    I can't see you getting very far, it does look like you used the amount they claim, so there is no error in the bill, just the surprise factor.

    It is not closed book billing, they can claim that you could have easily worked it out yourself (Standing charge * days, Unit rate * units consumed) to understand if you were on track.

    As above, you may be able to get some gesture of good will, but if the bill is correct then you will have to pay it in full.
  • Swipe
    Swipe Posts: 5,018
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    This is why keeping your own spreadsheet with the current unit rate & standing charge and frequent readings is useful, even if you have a smart meter. I have a log of my usage and seasonal temperatures going back a good number of years which I often look back on to see how my current usage compares.
  • JSHarris
    JSHarris Posts: 374
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    edited 15 December 2023 at 8:26AM
    Swipe said:
    This is why keeping your own spreadsheet with the current unit rate & standing charge and frequent readings is useful, even if you have a smart meter. I have a log of my usage and seasonal temperatures going back a good number of years which I often look back on to see how my current usage compares.

    Absolutely this, keeping a spreadsheet up to date is without a doubt worth the time and effort.  I started doing this when we were forcibly transferred to Octopus, when Iresa went bust.  Octopus massively overcharged us, as there was some problem with the data transfer from Iresa.
    To try and prove that our usage wasn't anywhere near as high as being claimed I started taking photos of the meters every week and putting the readings in a spreadsheet.  Even then I had meter readers claiming I was lying and trying to defraud the company.  Turned out the meter readers were reading someone else's meters, not mine.  The photos I took proved this, eventually the meter reader did the same and it was obvious it was a different house.
    I've carried on maintaining the spreadsheet every week (but I no longer go OTT with photos!).  Now I have it set up it takes less than a minute to read the meter and update the spreadsheet.  The historical data is very informative, especially when plotted, nothing quite like having a picture illustrating how our usage changes from month to month.

    Edited to add data from my spreadsheet that tracks monthly cost from the tariff rates and meter readings over the past couple of years:




  • MeteredOut
    MeteredOut Posts: 1,125
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    JSHarris said:
    Swipe said:
    This is why keeping your own spreadsheet with the current unit rate & standing charge and frequent readings is useful, even if you have a smart meter. I have a log of my usage and seasonal temperatures going back a good number of years which I often look back on to see how my current usage compares.

    Absolutely this, keeping a spreadsheet up to date is without a doubt worth the time and effort.  I started doing this when we were forcibly transferred to Octopus, when Iresa went bust.  Octopus massively overcharged us, as there was some problem with the data transfer from Iresa.
    To try and prove that our usage wasn't anywhere near as high as being claimed I started taking photos of the meters every week and putting the readings in a spreadsheet.  Even then I had meter readers claiming I was lying and trying to defraud the company.  Turned out the meter readers were reading someone else's meters, not mine.  The photos I took proved this, eventually the meter reader did the same and it was obvious it was a different house.
    I've carried on maintaining the spreadsheet every week (but I no longer go OTT with photos!).  Now I have it set up it takes less than a minute to read the meter and update the spreadsheet.  The historical data is very informative, especially when plotted, nothing quite like having a picture illustrating how our usage changes from month to month.

    Edited to add data from my spreadsheet that tracks monthly cost from the tariff rates and meter readings over the past couple of years:




    Do you have a smart meter? These reports come free with various apps/web sites, and could save you your 1 minute each day :)
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