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  • FIRST POST
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 11:58 AM
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    Fergie76
    Green Star Energy and the Ombudsman
    • #1
    • 22nd Oct 19, 11:58 AM
    Green Star Energy and the Ombudsman 22nd Oct 19 at 11:58 AM
    I'm unsure whether to post this here or on the Consumer Affairs Board, but I'll start here.

    Long story, short...

    At the beginning of last year, my mum changed energy supplier to Green Star Energy. She had a pre-payment economy 7 metre. When Green Star migrated her to them, they didn't do it properly and were charging everything on the standard (higher) rate.

    My mum lives in Sheltered Housing and they had a Housing Officer and she happened to mention that she was spending to much on her energy and they sent of their workers around to have look for her and this was how it was discovered that she was being overcharged.

    The Housing Officer (on my mum's behalf) complained to Green Star, however, nothing happened. They never even transferred her over to the correct Economy 7 tariff, never mind refund any over charges.

    After 8 weeks, complained to the Ombudsman, who in January, found in my mums favour and ordered Green Star to do three resolutions.

    1. Letter of apology
    2. Goodwill gesture
    3. Issue a final bill, using the correct tariffs and metre readings.

    Green Star said they accepted the Ombudsman decision and complied with the first two resolutions, however dragged their heals with the 3rd.

    After many back and forth between myself and the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman Green Star, Green Star said that they don't issue final bills for pre-payment customers.

    In August, the Ombudsman, tweaked the final resolution in order that they could comply and Green Star then said they dispute the decision. The decision was upheld.

    They then said the couldn't comply as their computer couldn't do. So the case handler at the Ombudsman said, you don't need a computer, just someone with a pen and paper and told them the exact calculations they had to do, all Green Star had to do was find out the pricing for the period.

    On the 27 Aug, Ombudsman wrote to Green Star giving them 28 days to comply. On 29 Aug, Green Star marked on Ombudsman system that they had complied, however after the 28 days were up, mum still had not received a final bill.

    Phoned Ombudsman again to complain and Green Star keep fobbing of the Ombudsman. Latest update yesterday, was that the complaint was with their Metering Team.

    I now seem to be stuck in a situation, where the Ombudsman has no power to force Green Star to do anything, can't put a deadline on them to comply and can't enforce any sanctions on them for failing to comply.

    I can't go to OFGEM, as they don't take on individual cases.

    The only avenue that I can really see left open, is the Small Claims Court. However, because I don't know how much my mum has been overcharged, I don't know how much to claim for.

    Anybody got any suggestions on the best way forward?

    Sorry for the long post.
Page 1
    • Streaky Bacon
    • By Streaky Bacon 22nd Oct 19, 12:23 PM
    • 160 Posts
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    Streaky Bacon
    • #2
    • 22nd Oct 19, 12:23 PM
    • #2
    • 22nd Oct 19, 12:23 PM
    If it comes to it, you can start a small claims case without knowing the amount that you expect to recover, you just have to submit using the paper form and estimate the claim for the purposes of calculating the court fee.

    It is clear that something is owed, so at least the threat of proceedings may get some movement from Green Star.

    Am I correct in thinking that the meter is just recording everything on the standard rate, so that there is no way to see how many units have been used at night?

    Do you have pre-Green Star bills with proper readings which you could use to calculate the historic day:night unit ratio? You could use this to get an estimate of how many units have been charged at the wrong rate.
    Last edited by Streaky Bacon; 22-10-2019 at 12:26 PM.
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 12:36 PM
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    Fergie76
    • #3
    • 22nd Oct 19, 12:36 PM
    • #3
    • 22nd Oct 19, 12:36 PM
    Yes, the Ombudsman have been really good, except for the actual enforcement of the resolution. They have worked out that my mum used 66% of her energy on the night rate, so have told Green Star to re-bill with 66% at the night rate.

    We have all the meter readings for before and after, so it should be very easy for them to work out. Like I said, the Ombudsman told them the exact calculation they had to do.
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 12:48 PM
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    Fergie76
    • #4
    • 22nd Oct 19, 12:48 PM
    • #4
    • 22nd Oct 19, 12:48 PM
    The remedy Green Star had to comply with, was:

    "confirm in writing that upon receipt of transfer readings from your new supplier it will issue final statement, billing on an Economy 7 tariff with 66% of your usage being billed on the night rate. If this is not possible it will apply an account credit for the difference in charges".
    Green Star stated they were unable to comply the above, because "It states that it does not generate statements for prepayment customers and it has no read history to manually work out a credit. "

    So the Ombudsman sent Green Star this on 24 Jul 19:

    As referenced, Green Star Energy took over the supply on 26 January 2018. You confirm actual readings were obtained on 29 January 2018. The readings were day 06042 and 14951 night.

    xxxx took over the supply on 29 November 2018. When I have contacted xxxx it advised it has opening meter readings of 14952 day and 10460 night. These readings have clearly been transposed. Also the night reading has only advanced by 1 kWh.

    My investigation confirmed that Mrs xxxx's previous supplier ( xxxx) confirmed that she was using 66% of her total usage on the night rate.

    Essentially the customer should be billed for 4419 kWh with 66% of this usage being billed on the night rate.

    Green Star Energy therefore needs to calculate the cost of 4419 kWh on the cheapest Economy 7 tariff with 66 % being billed on the night rate and issue a credit between this total cost and what the customer paid via the prepayment meter.
    • Streaky Bacon
    • By Streaky Bacon 22nd Oct 19, 12:55 PM
    • 160 Posts
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    Streaky Bacon
    • #5
    • 22nd Oct 19, 12:55 PM
    • #5
    • 22nd Oct 19, 12:55 PM
    My investigation confirmed that Mrs xxxx's previous supplier ( xxxx) confirmed that she was using 66% of her total usage on the night rate.

    Essentially the customer should be billed for 4419 kWh with 66% of this usage being billed on the night rate.

    Green Star Energy therefore needs to calculate the cost of 4419 kWh on the cheapest Economy 7 tariff with 66 % being billed on the night rate and issue a credit between this total cost and what the customer paid via the prepayment meter.
    OK, so 66% of 4419 is 2,916 so you Mum should be refunded

    (the standard unit price - the night unit price) x 2,916

    Do you know what the standard and night unit prices were under their cheapest Economy 7 tariff?

    EDIT: Just had a quick look at their current tariffs and the difference appears to be roughly 6.5p, so that would be approximately £190
    Last edited by Streaky Bacon; 22-10-2019 at 1:14 PM.
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 1:17 PM
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    Fergie76
    • #6
    • 22nd Oct 19, 1:17 PM
    • #6
    • 22nd Oct 19, 1:17 PM
    No, I don't. The Ombudsman did state, to charge at their cheapest tarrif rate, so looking at their website - https://join.mygreenstarenergy.com/I(3ks2xnr)/Enrollment/Home?_ga=2.27529596.1397219854.1571740719-1659810674.1571740719 - their cheapest Economy 7 rate to day is: 17.538 / 12.683. Difference between standard and night rate is 4.855p. Using that as ball park figure for the difference, my mum should have been charged:

    2916 x 4.855 = £141.58

    If my maths is correct...

    Thinking about this a bit more, I am not sure this will actually refund my mum all she is entitled too. Thinking about it a bit further, I misstated the reason in the OP for mum discovering the problem. She thought her heating was broken as it was on constantly. The electrician came up and it was him that discovered, that economy 7 wasn't working.

    So while the above, will refund my mum, for the night rate. It will not compensate her for the heating being on constantly at the more expensive rate, as it would normal be off during the standard rate.

    Hope I'm making myself clear, as I am even confusing myself now.
    • Streaky Bacon
    • By Streaky Bacon 22nd Oct 19, 1:37 PM
    • 160 Posts
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    Streaky Bacon
    • #7
    • 22nd Oct 19, 1:37 PM
    • #7
    • 22nd Oct 19, 1:37 PM
    If Green Star used their cheapest tariff, then they only owe your Mum the difference, but if for some reason they didn't charge your Mum on their cheapest tariff then, based on the Ombudsman's decision, they also owe you the difference between the cheapest tariff and tariff they used.

    Do you know which tariff they used?

    I don't understand the bit about the heating being on/off during the standard rate.
    Last edited by Streaky Bacon; 22-10-2019 at 1:42 PM.
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 1:51 PM
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    Fergie76
    • #8
    • 22nd Oct 19, 1:51 PM
    • #8
    • 22nd Oct 19, 1:51 PM
    I made a mistake. I forgot to get the PAYG tariff.

    The only have one PAYG Tariff - Standing Charge - 30.47 Unit Rate - 19.540 / 13.040

    My mum was with Green Star from 26 Jan 18 - 28 Nov 18 = 306 days.

    Standing Charge (using current tarrifs as ball park figures) - 30.47 * 306 = £109.69

    4419 * 19.540 = £863.47

    = £973.16

    Should have been charge:

    Standing Charge - 30.47 * 306 = £109.69

    Standard Rate: 1503 * 19.540 = 293.69

    Night Rate: 2916 * 13.04 = £308.25

    Total = £711.63

    Difference = £973.16 - £711.63 = £261.53

    So going on today's prices, my would be out of pocket by £261.53

    However, I feel this doesn't take into account the fact that my mum was paying for her heating and water 24/7, as it wasn't being turned of during the standard rate.

    Also, this doesn't tie in with the fact that my mum said she was putting approximately £40 per on to her meter.

    Might need to ask Green Star for an exact total of how much my mum spent on her electric.
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 1:55 PM
    • 2,237 Posts
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    Fergie76
    • #9
    • 22nd Oct 19, 1:55 PM
    • #9
    • 22nd Oct 19, 1:55 PM
    If Green Star used their cheapest tariff, then they only owe your Mum the difference, but if for some reason they didn't charge your Mum on their cheapest tariff then, based on the Ombudsman's decision, they also owe you the difference between the cheapest tariff and tariff they used.

    Do you know which tariff they used?

    I don't understand the bit about the heating being on/off during the standard rate.
    Originally posted by Streaky Bacon
    The heating system is storage heaters and should recharge at night, during night rate and be off during the day at the standard rate, same for the water, however, as there was no night rate, the heating was being recharged 24/7 and therefore, the usage of 4419 is way higher than it should be.

    I don't know what tariff was used.
    Last edited by Fergie76; 22-10-2019 at 2:03 PM.
    • maxcy
    • By maxcy 22nd Oct 19, 2:03 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 19 Thanks
    maxcy
    I'm unsure whether to post this here or on the Consumer Affairs Board, but I'll start here.

    Long story, short...

    At the beginning of last year, my mum changed energy supplier to Green Star Energy. She had a pre-payment economy 7 metre. When Green Star migrated her to them, they didn't do it properly and were charging everything on the standard (higher) rate.

    My mum lives in Sheltered Housing and they had a Housing Officer and she happened to mention that she was spending to much on her energy and they sent of their workers around to have look for her and this was how it was discovered that she was being overcharged.

    The Housing Officer (on my mum's behalf) complained to Green Star, however, nothing happened. They never even transferred her over to the correct Economy 7 tariff, never mind refund any over charges.

    After 8 weeks, complained to the Ombudsman, who in January, found in my mums favour and ordered Green Star to do three resolutions.

    1. Letter of apology
    2. Goodwill gesture
    3. Issue a final bill, using the correct tariffs and metre readings.

    Green Star said they accepted the Ombudsman decision and complied with the first two resolutions, however dragged their heals with the 3rd.

    After many back and forth between myself and the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman Green Star, Green Star said that they don't issue final bills for pre-payment customers.

    In August, the Ombudsman, tweaked the final resolution in order that they could comply and Green Star then said they dispute the decision. The decision was upheld.

    They then said the couldn't comply as their computer couldn't do. So the case handler at the Ombudsman said, you don't need a computer, just someone with a pen and paper and told them the exact calculations they had to do, all Green Star had to do was find out the pricing for the period.

    On the 27 Aug, Ombudsman wrote to Green Star giving them 28 days to comply. On 29 Aug, Green Star marked on Ombudsman system that they had complied, however after the 28 days were up, mum still had not received a final bill.

    Phoned Ombudsman again to complain and Green Star keep fobbing of the Ombudsman. Latest update yesterday, was that the complaint was with their Metering Team.

    I now seem to be stuck in a situation, where the Ombudsman has no power to force Green Star to do anything, can't put a deadline on them to comply and can't enforce any sanctions on them for failing to comply.

    I can't go to OFGEM, as they don't take on individual cases.

    The only avenue that I can really see left open, is the Small Claims Court. However, because I don't know how much my mum has been overcharged, I don't know how much to claim for.

    Anybody got any suggestions on the best way forward?

    Sorry for the long post.
    Originally posted by Fergie76
    There are so many concerning matters about this post, it's difficult to know where to start.

    But "long story, short..." as you put it

    Presumably you accepted the resolution of the ombudsman service in full and final settlement of the complaint against the supplier?
    - such a resolution is usually agreed by all parties, in the sense that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

    That being the case, you cannot now go elsewhere, as you will be referred to the resolution you willingly agreed to.

    Based on what you have said, not only have the ombudsman seemingly failed to explain to you how they implement remedies agreed, but they seem, on the evidence provided, to have not even followed their own processes to reach that resolution; that is grounds to complain to the ombudsman service themselves regarding the handling of your complaint against the energy supplier.

    Details here:
    https://www.ombudsman-services.org/unhappy-with-our-service
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 2:11 PM
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    Fergie76
    There are so many concerning matters about this post, it's difficult to know where to start.

    But "long story, short..." as you put it

    Presumably you accepted the resolution of the ombudsman service in full and final settlement of the complaint against the supplier?
    - such a resolution is usually agreed by all parties, in the sense that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

    That being the case, you cannot now go elsewhere, as you will be referred to the resolution you willingly agreed to.

    Based on what you have said, not only have the ombudsman seemingly failed to explain to you how they implement remedies agreed, but they seem, on the evidence provided, to have not even followed their own processes to reach that resolution; that is grounds to complain to the ombudsman service themselves regarding the handling of your complaint against the energy supplier.

    Details here:
    https://www.ombudsman-services.org/unhappy-with-our-service
    Originally posted by maxcy
    Of course there is still the opportunity to resort to the court. Using an ADR does not take away your legal rights.
    • maxcy
    • By maxcy 22nd Oct 19, 2:17 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 19 Thanks
    maxcy
    OK, so 66% of 4419 is 2,916 so you Mum should be refunded

    (the standard unit price - the night unit price) x 2,916

    Do you know what the standard and night unit prices were under their cheapest Economy 7 tariff?

    EDIT: Just had a quick look at their current tariffs and the difference appears to be roughly 6.5p, so that would be approximately £190
    Originally posted by Streaky Bacon
    No, I don't. ...
    Originally posted by Fergie76
    The details of the tariff that was applied for was presumably included on the welcome letter sent to your mother. Hopefully she still has a copy of that, or else I'm sure the supplier can provide a duplicate if necessary.
    That presumably is the E7 tariff if that is what your mother applied for.

    Presumably your mother now knows what rate she was actually being charged at? If not, then hopefully the Housing Officer or the worker that identified the root cause of the complaint will know. Else, I;m sure the supplier can advise details
    • maxcy
    • By maxcy 22nd Oct 19, 2:19 PM
    • 45 Posts
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    maxcy
    Of course there is still the opportunity to resort to the court. Using an ADR does not take away your legal rights.
    Originally posted by Fergie76
    The court will dismiss the claim as soon as they are told that a full and final resolution has already been reached and agreed in the matter.
    • Streaky Bacon
    • By Streaky Bacon 22nd Oct 19, 2:31 PM
    • 160 Posts
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    Streaky Bacon
    Of course there is still the opportunity to resort to the court. Using an ADR does not take away your legal rights.
    Originally posted by Fergie76
    You're correct that you can go the small claims route. The ombudsman has made the decision and the supplier, who are bound by that decision, have failed to follow it. The ombudsman just do not enforce further than telling the supplier what to do.

    You are perfectly entitled to go the court route and it seems that is the correct route. Do your best to figure out an estimate and then send the letter of claim (provide your estimate and invite them to make payment, or provide a final bill, within 14 days). If you don't get a response then begin a claim.

    With regards to the heating, I think you are saying that:

    1) The system is supposed to recharge when the night rate is active
    2) Because there was no night rate, it just recharged constantly

    What I don't understand is why that changed the total amount of energy used for recharging. Does the standard/night rate affect when the heat is supplied, or just when it is recharged?
    Last edited by Streaky Bacon; 22-10-2019 at 2:38 PM.
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 2:43 PM
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    Fergie76
    You're correct that you can go the small claims route. The ombudsman has made the decision and the supplier, who are bound by that decision, have failed to follow it. The ombudsman just do not enforce further than telling the supplier what to do.

    You are perfectly entitled to go the court route and it seems that is the correct route. Do your best to figure out an estimate and then send the letter of claim.

    With regards to the heating, I think you are saying that:

    1) The system is supposed to recharge when the night rate is active
    2) Because there was no night rate, it just recharged constantly

    What I don't understand is why that changed the total amount of energy used for recharging. Does the standard/night rate affect when the heat is supplied, or just when it is recharged?
    Originally posted by Streaky Bacon
    Yes, sorry for not making myself clear. The heating should only be have been recharged during the night rate period and then it slowly releases the heat throughout the day. So heating should only be charged for 7/24, however has there was no night rate, it was being charged 24/24 and storage heaters use an exceptional rate of electricity.

    "Every storage heater has a set of simple controls. ... Most storage heaters will only charge up at night, so there is no danger of using expensive day-rate electricity. The controls also have an output setting that allows you to regulate the amount of heat that the storage heater gives off."

    "Storage heater running costs

    Assuming that you only use it charging on your lower rate tariff, a 2kw high performance storage heater would have a running cost of around 13p per hour."

    So instead of only 7 hours of 13p per hour per heater, my mum had 24 hours.

    Hope this makes more sense?
    • maxcy
    • By maxcy 22nd Oct 19, 2:44 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 19 Thanks
    maxcy
    You're correct that you can go the small claims route. The ombudsman has made the decision and the supplier, who are bound by that decision, have failed to follow it. The ombudsman just do not enforce further than telling the supplier what to do.

    You are perfectly entitled to go the court route and it seems that is the correct route. Do your best to figure out an estimate and then send the letter of claim (provide your estimate and invite them to make payment, or provide a final bill, within 14 days). If you don't get a response then begin a claim.

    With regards to the heating, I think you are saying that:

    1) The system is supposed to recharge when the night rate is active
    2) Because there was no night rate, it just recharged constantly

    What I don't understand is why that changed the total amount of energy used for recharging. Does the standard/night rate affect when the heat is supplied, or just when it is recharged?
    Originally posted by Streaky Bacon
    The court will dismiss the claim as soon as they are told that a full and final resolution has already been reached and agreed in the matter.

    There is nothing left for the court to decide
    ... and you will lose the court fees paid.
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 2:45 PM
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    Fergie76
    The court will dismiss the claim as soon as they are told that a full and final resolution has already been reached and agreed in the matter.
    Originally posted by maxcy
    Blethers, it is the company, that has failed to comply with the ADR resoluton, not my mum.

    If anything, the ADR decision will enhance my mum's chance, as it will show the court that my mum has been financially disadvantaged and they have failed to resolve the matter.
    Last edited by Fergie76; 22-10-2019 at 2:47 PM.
    • maxcy
    • By maxcy 22nd Oct 19, 2:53 PM
    • 45 Posts
    • 19 Thanks
    maxcy
    Blethers, it is the company, that has failed to comply with the ADR resoluton, not my mum.

    If anything, the ADR decision will enhance my mum's chance, as it will show the court that my mum has been financially disadvantaged and they have failed to resolve the matter.
    Originally posted by Fergie76
    I have already provided you with my advice on how best to proceed, based on what you have said.
    As I also said, "There are so many concerning matters about this post, it's difficult to know where to start."

    I accept that the advice I have provided you may not be the advice you were hoping to receive, but that does not make it incorrect.

    Ultimately this is a case of :Your money, Your choice. Entirely up to you how you decide to proceed.
    • Fergie76
    • By Fergie76 22nd Oct 19, 3:02 PM
    • 2,237 Posts
    • 2,294 Thanks
    Fergie76
    I have already provided you with my advice on how best to proceed, based on what you have said.
    As I also said, "There are so many concerning matters about this post, it's difficult to know where to start."

    I accept that the advice I have provided you may not be the advice you were hoping to receive, but that does not make it incorrect.

    Ultimately this is a case of :Your money, Your choice. Entirely up to you how you decide to proceed.
    Originally posted by maxcy
    You're right, it doesn't make it incorrect, however, what makes it incorrect is that it's wrong. You obviously don't know the way the Small Claims Court works, in fact the encourage you to use an ADR, before proceeding down the court route.
    • Streaky Bacon
    • By Streaky Bacon 22nd Oct 19, 3:06 PM
    • 160 Posts
    • 84 Thanks
    Streaky Bacon
    The court will dismiss the claim as soon as they are told that a full and final resolution has already been reached and agreed in the matter.

    There is nothing left for the court to decide
    ... and you will lose the court fees paid.
    Originally posted by maxcy
    This is quite simply wrong. The supplier owes the OP's Mum money and have failed to pay it. The court will make a decision on whether a judgement should be entered against the defendant. The fact that the ombudsman have already decided what the supplier should do, doesn't change that. If the supplier had followed the judgment of the ombudsman, that would be a different matter.

    From an article in The Guardian, which includes input from Martin Lewis

    Those, like the Energy Ombudsman, are underpinned by statute. Its compulsory for companies within that sector to be members of a scheme but it doesn’t actually give them any more legal powers. If a company ignores their remedies, all they can do is suggest the customer takes court action or, in serious breaches, report it to the relevant regulator.
    https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/oct/28/ombudsman-regulate-parliament-review-martin-lewis
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