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Energy bills after 17 years

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Energy
14 replies 1.6K views
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  • Hi,

    Thank you for your message.

    Yes we did contact the Ombudsman and yes they did rule in the suppliers favour. The Ombudsman states that as we were not in actual in contact with the supplier (SP) we aren’t eligible for the back billing clause either and come up with a loud of rubbish stating that £50 was to be credited to our account as a good Will gesture. No talking to them would change their decision even tho we had no idea who the suppliers where due to the meters being incorrectly registered to the wrong plot number. It was the Ombudsman who informed us of this massive error and also stated that (SP) was the electric supplier, when in fact EDF have now made contact to inform us that are the supplier. It’s been a nightmare to be honest but what can you do against these big organisations.
  • edited 19 May 2019 at 3:14PM
    Streaky_BaconStreaky_Bacon Forumite
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    edited 19 May 2019 at 3:14PM
    The change to the standard licence conditions below came into effect on May 1st 2018.

    You say that you have been dealing with SP for 18 months, so these won't apply, but they will to the EDF bill.

    I cannot see that your case falls under any of the exceptions, so it would seem that they should not be able to bill you beyond 12 months.
    Prohibition

    21BA.1 Subject to paragraph 21BA.2, where the licensee or any Representative Issues a Bill to a Domestic Customer or otherwise seeks to recover (including via a Prepayment Meter) Charges for the Supply of Electricity from that customer (hereafter a “charge recovery action”), they must only do so in respect of:
    (a) units of electricity which could reasonably be considered to have been consumed within the 12 months preceding the date the charge recovery action was taken; and
    (b) where applicable, amounts in respect of a Standing Charge or any other type of supply charge accrued within the 12 months preceding the date the charge recovery action was taken.

    Exceptions to prohibition

    21BA.2 Paragraph 21BA.1 does not apply in the following circumstances:

    (a) where any charge recovery action was taken prior to the date this condition took effect;
    (b) the licensee or any Representative, has taken a charge recovery action following the date this condition took effect in a manner which complied with paragraph 21BA.1 and, due to non-payment are continuing to take steps to obtain payment for the same units of electricity and, where applicable, the same amounts in respect of a Standing Charge or other type of supply charge;
    (c) the licensee has been unable to take a charge recovery action for the correct amount of electricity consumed due to obstructive or manifestly unreasonable behaviour of the Domestic Customer;
    (d) any other circumstances, which following consultation, the Authority may specify by publishing a statement in writing.
    For SP, the applicable rules can be found here:

    https://www.britishgas.co.uk/content/dam/british-gas/about%20us/pdfs/code-of-practice-back-billing.pdf

    Back billing sub-clause 5, scenario 2, may be of specific relevance
    2. A domestic customer moved into a new-build property on 15 June 2007. The meter details held by the supplier for the property, though, related to the customer’s next-door neighbour. This meter crossover was recognised by the supplier in May 2009, and the corrections made to the account, including updating the correct meter readings.

    Yes. As long as the revised bills to the customer were for a higher amount than previously billed, meaning that the customer’s debt has increased.
    Also Back billing sub-clause 4, scenario 2
    2. A customer moves into a new build property in January 2008. They do not receive a bill until they contact supplier A in June 2009. This happened despite the customer contacting supplier A on a number of occasions since January 2008.

    Yes. The back billing clause would be
    applicable where the results of the supplier’s and customer’s investigations were able to demonstrate the contact attempts


    You can show that there was an incorrect meter assignment, and that also significantly backs up your claim that you tried to contact the suppliers.
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    I cannot see that your case falls under any of the exceptions, so it would seem that they should not be able to bill you beyond 12 months.


    We can agree to differ on your interpretation of the post May 2018 backbilling Guidance. Presumably the more stringent pre May 2018 guidance would have been in force when the matter came to light. Indeed in 2002 I don't think the back-billing code had been introduced.


    However regardless of our opinion, the OP has asked for advice on his case. As the Ombudsman has ruled against the customer it seems his only chance is to take legal action in the Small Claims Court - limiting the claim to £10,000.


    Given the Ombudsman's ruling, and that he will be relying on a voluntary, non-legal code of conduct on backbilling, I really cannot see such a case having a chance.In addition to sit back and wait 16 years without any written evidence of contacting either company, beggars belief.



    It is also pertinent to point out that if the Judge considers the plaintiff's case trivial(frivolent?), he can award the defendant costs.
  • edited 20 May 2019 at 5:54PM
    Streaky_BaconStreaky_Bacon Forumite
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    edited 20 May 2019 at 5:54PM
    I certainly think that the OP will likely need to take some proper legal advice at some point. However, I would suggest that:

    1) It is not for the OP to do anything at the moment. If they cannot reach agreement with the suppliers, then it would be for the suppliers to bring legal proceedings.

    2) Just because the pre-2018 code of conduct was voluntary to enter into, I would not be sure that it is not legally binding on them. If it is published, then it could be argued that it forms part of the contract with any customer (even if they do not know they are a customer at the time).

    3) The Ombudsman ruling is not helpful, but also not necessarily fatal. Much depends on the details of the decision, which we do not really know. The OP has suggested that part of the reason for rejection was that they were not in contact with the supplier. This seems possibly harsh given that it as seems that there was a problem with allocation of the meter. Was it even possible for them to get in contact with the supplier (and for that supplier to have agreed that they were the supplier)?

    Nothing is guaranteed in court, but if the OP states that they tried to contact all the big suppliers, and the suppliers admit that the meter wasn't assigned properly and that this may have prevented the account being found, then they may well go in the OP's favour.

    Would a court consider it reasonable that the OP called 17 years ago, and then not again. Maybe, maybe not. The alternative is to call and write to every supplier every couple of years. Is that really the individual's role when it is not their mistake? Would it even have mattered (it may well be that the meter assignment was only corrected recently)

    Would a court consider it reasonable for a supplier to not resolve this from their end for 17 years, and to only send a bill out 17 years later? Maybe, maybe not.

    So, I think that there is a lot more meat on the bones, with regards to defending this.

    Certainly if the suppliers start suggesting court action, the OP will want to speak to a solicitor, and it may be that a figure can be negotiated.
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