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  • FIRST POST
    • julieg2004
    • By julieg2004 10th May 19, 6:35 PM
    • 6Posts
    • 0Thanks
    julieg2004
    Energy bills after 17 years
    • #1
    • 10th May 19, 6:35 PM
    Energy bills after 17 years 10th May 19 at 6:35 PM
    So the story goes a little something like this.

    I purchased a house back in August 2002 (New Build/ Off Plan) and for the love of money could not find who was supplying my property with Gas/Electricity. I called all the major companies at the time who informed me that they had no record of my meter numbers and to wait for correspondence to arrive from the supplier, to which I did, 16 years later a bill arrived.

    Gas Scottish Power

    So I received a bill for the Gas from Scottish Power for the sum of £14000, “crazy I know”. After some calling and speaking to several people, we got the bill down to £5200 with no explanation as how this can happen. Anyway with some questions asked regarding the supply we still don’t know why Scottish Power haven’t sent a bill in all this time .

    Electricity EDF

    So today I received a bill for £10000 from EDF for the Electricity under a business account “extremely confused 🤷!♂️” so I made contact to find out where I stand. Anyway the same outcome has arisen and I have apply to have the account placed as a residential account before they can discuss things further. I did however ask some questions as to why a bill wasn’t sent for all this time and again the advisor was unable to answer and was really helpful but not helpful if you know what I mean.

    Ombudsman

    Yes we have contacted the Ombudsman a while back when the Scottish Power bills started arriving and the outcome was as follows.

    Back in 2002 when the property was built, both Gas & Electricity meters where registered to an incorrect plot number, my plot number being 465 and the registered plot number being 46. The Ombudsman was useless to be honest and baffled me with technical jargon to which I didn’t understand , when asked in layman’s term a scripted reply was sent, again unhelpful to say the least.

    Anyway without adding to this fiasco, I’m after some advise and help regarding the above as I simply don’t know who to turn to for help.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and my fingers are crossed for a reply for a technical wizard in utility’s.

    Many thank Andy.
Page 1
    • poppellerant
    • By poppellerant 10th May 19, 6:58 PM
    • 1,389 Posts
    • 819 Thanks
    poppellerant
    • #2
    • 10th May 19, 6:58 PM
    • #2
    • 10th May 19, 6:58 PM
    To be honest, I don't really have any advice for you, but don't worry somebody will answer shortly.

    I only posted to check that you've been keeping payments aside in anticipation of receiving a bill. From 2002, £50/pcm doesn't sound unreasonable, giving you about £10,000 to pay the bills with.

    The way I see it, you've made reasonable efforts to contact suppliers, therefore can't see why you wouldn't fall under the 12 month backbilling rights.

    You can read more about backbilling here:- Energy backbilling: Your rights - Ofgem
    • julieg2004
    • By julieg2004 10th May 19, 7:33 PM
    • 6 Posts
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    julieg2004
    • #3
    • 10th May 19, 7:33 PM
    • #3
    • 10th May 19, 7:33 PM
    Hi,

    Thank you for your reply.

    As I said, the EDF bill came through the post today and the Scottish Power fiasco has been going on near 18 months. I’ve not paid anything yet to either company due to the fact the bill was produced using a “deemed” account and I have requested that the total bill be recalculated using the standard tariff as I find unfair to calculate the bill under a deemed status when I was unaware they were the supplier.
    • dogshome
    • By dogshome 11th May 19, 7:32 AM
    • 3,273 Posts
    • 1,708 Thanks
    dogshome
    • #4
    • 11th May 19, 7:32 AM
    • #4
    • 11th May 19, 7:32 AM
    17 Years? - Wow !

    The BIG question is that can the Back-billing Agreement be applied to both suppliers, or just one or the other, if at all
    The Back-billing agreement comes into play when a supplier fails to send out bills for a year or more, in these circumstances the supplier can only bill energy used in the previous 12 months, and that 12 months is calculated back from the date they did produce a bill



    You say that you contacted the main suppliers when moving in and had the response " Wait for correspondence"

    Ideally for back-billing to apply, the customer should be able to show that they had contacted the supplier to register, but obviously after 17 years you are unlikely to have kept a record.of those phone calls
    BUT
    Whilst the build is in progress, it is the developer who is responsible for energy bills on every dwelling, and it is quite common that when a house is sold, the developer quickly advises the supplier/s that No x has a new owner who is now responsible for the bills
    If the first bills you received were addressed to you by name with a Start Meter Reading , you have a good case for Back-billing to apply


    Statute of Limitations
    No matter what the position is on Back-billing, NO supplier can issue a bill for goods or services supplied 6 years earlier if that is the first contact.
    • Thomas Edison
    • By Thomas Edison 11th May 19, 12:33 PM
    • 148 Posts
    • 68 Thanks
    Thomas Edison
    • #5
    • 11th May 19, 12:33 PM
    • #5
    • 11th May 19, 12:33 PM
    You can definitely argue thematic they can't bill you back more than a year as it's there mistake.

    Also you don't want to be charged on their standard tariff that's the worst possible deal, you should argue that you should be charged on one of the better fixed rate deals they had available for that period
    • julieg2004
    • By julieg2004 11th May 19, 3:43 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    julieg2004
    • #6
    • 11th May 19, 3:43 PM
    • #6
    • 11th May 19, 3:43 PM
    Hi all,

    Thank you for your reply’s.

    Both bills where addressed to the Owner Occupier as they had no details based on the homeowners. Scottish Power have now applied the account to myself and we are currently waiting for them to respond to my request of the “Deemed” account figure being recalculated.

    EDF have placed the bill as a “Business” and not as a residential address so I have to apply to have this changed before I can address this one and move forward.
    • julieg2004
    • By julieg2004 11th May 19, 3:47 PM
    • 6 Posts
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    julieg2004
    • #7
    • 11th May 19, 3:47 PM
    • #7
    • 11th May 19, 3:47 PM
    May I also add that both meter readings from the suppliers where estimated and not actual readings from my meters. Both meters have been available for them to read throughout the this time but it appears they have never even been looked at by either supplier.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 12th May 19, 8:21 PM
    • 27,973 Posts
    • 13,831 Thanks
    Cardew
    • #8
    • 12th May 19, 8:21 PM
    • #8
    • 12th May 19, 8:21 PM
    For any case to be considered for the back-billing provision to apply the guidance states:


    The Back-Billing Principle does NOT apply to you and your bill if:
    • You have been using the gas or electricity supply but have made no attempt to contact the supplier to arrange payment. This includes moving into a property and making no attempt to let a supplier know you are the new tenant or homeowner
    Your case would be dependant on if it was reasonable for you to make phonecalls - not write or email? and then sit back for 17 years and do nothing.


    Prior to May 2018 the guidance for backbilling was contained in Energy UK 'Code of practice for accurate bills'. This guidance was more stringent about customers in new properties taking proactive steps to be billed.


    If the Ombudsman has ruled that 12 month backbilling does not apply, I suspect that you will have little chance taking legal action. It will be down to a matter of liability under 6 years statute; which presumably is why the £14,000 bill has been reduced to £5,200.



    The tone of your post makes you sound a victim. Yet you will have escaped payment for 11 years consumption of gas and electricity.
    Last edited by Cardew; 13-05-2019 at 5:36 AM. Reason: sp
    • matelodave
    • By matelodave 13th May 19, 7:42 AM
    • 4,661 Posts
    • 3,001 Thanks
    matelodave
    • #9
    • 13th May 19, 7:42 AM
    • #9
    • 13th May 19, 7:42 AM
    working on the assumption that you should have been paying for your energy for the best part of 17 years an that £50 permonth would have been a reasonable average amount then you should really have around £600x17 = around £10k saved up for the eventuality that you'd get a bill.

    So getting away with anything significantly less that than that has got to be a bit of a bonus.

    You suggest that this is a fiasco but I would venture that a lot of it is of your own making as you've had 17 years to sort it out and you should have been trying to do it 17 years ago
    Last edited by matelodave; 13-05-2019 at 7:45 AM.
    Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large numbers
    • julieg2004
    • By julieg2004 13th May 19, 7:48 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    julieg2004
    Hi,

    Thank you for your reply,

    With all due respect the meters where unobtainable on the national data base for sometime and I believe this was due to either none registration or lost records. Believe me I have tried and tried for several years to find both suppliers to no avail. It was only a explanation from SP who shed some light on the situation regarding the none contact from the suppliers. We are still in the dark as to what company supplied the property from 02 to 05 and only have records from EDF (Electric) from 05 when they took over, but yet no contact was made from said company to inform us of the supply change. With regards to SP, they state they have supplied the property since 2001 “before the property was built” but yet when the serial numbers where searched on the data base pre 2018, no company was connected to the supply. We still don’t have an explanation from SP and we currently trying to get the debt re-calculated using a suitable tariff.

    EDF have only made contact this week and have our property down as a “business “ and not “residential “ address. We are in the process of getting this rectified and will challenge them to re-calculate using a suitable tariff.

    May I also add the phrase “fiasco” was in relation to the hole situation surrounding the not knowing who the supplier was and as a result not knowing who to pay. I’m not here to dodge the debt, more to gain expertise on dealing with these organisations so I’m not walked all over so to speak.

    Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my posts and I’m so grateful for your advise.
    • Pirnmill
    • By Pirnmill 15th May 19, 5:37 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Pirnmill
    If you were in touch with them in 2002 and they made a cobblers of it then that is their problem. They are chancing their arm sending out these giant bills.

    As a customer you fulfilled your part of the bargain....getting in contact trying to set up billing, etc.

    As suppliers they have failed. They are obligated to bill you correctly and in a reasonable timeframe. It is absolutely not your obligation to spend years on the phone trying to persuade them to bill you.

    You say you've contacted the Ombudsman, but did you actually start a case with them?

    If what you say is true there is not a chance they would rule in favour of the suppliers.
    • julieg2004
    • By julieg2004 18th May 19, 7:55 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    julieg2004
    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.
    • Streaky Bacon
    • By Streaky Bacon 19th May 19, 1:57 PM
    • 151 Posts
    • 74 Thanks
    Streaky Bacon
    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.
    Last edited by Streaky Bacon; 19-05-2019 at 2:14 PM.
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 19th May 19, 5:28 PM
    • 27,973 Posts
    • 13,831 Thanks
    Cardew

    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.
    Originally posted by Streaky Bacon

    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.
    • Streaky Bacon
    • By Streaky Bacon 20th May 19, 2:50 AM
    • 151 Posts
    • 74 Thanks
    Streaky Bacon
    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.
    Last edited by Streaky Bacon; 20-05-2019 at 4:54 PM.
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