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    • MSE Callum
    • By MSE Callum 8th Mar 18, 3:17 PM
    • 234Posts
    • 98Thanks
    MSE Callum
    MSE News: Dad given £950 energy refund suddenly...
    • #1
    • 8th Mar 18, 3:17 PM
    MSE News: Dad given £950 energy refund suddenly... 8th Mar 18 at 3:17 PM
    An energy company has apologised after it told a customer he was £950 in credit when giving his final bill - only to go back to him months later and tell him he OWED £1,500...
    Read the full story:
    'Dad given £950 energy refund suddenly told he owes £1,500'

    Click reply below to discuss. If you havenít already, join the forum to reply.
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    • phillw
    • By phillw 8th Mar 18, 3:37 PM
    • 1,264 Posts
    • 816 Thanks
    • #2
    • 8th Mar 18, 3:37 PM
    • #2
    • 8th Mar 18, 3:37 PM
    "Dad given"

    are articles being written using the click bait template now?
    • One-Eye
    • By One-Eye 8th Mar 18, 3:46 PM
    • 42,096 Posts
    • 6,567,060 Thanks
    • #3
    • 8th Mar 18, 3:46 PM
    • #3
    • 8th Mar 18, 3:46 PM
    1) Who's to say that the new final bill showing £611.87 debt is more accurate than the previous one showing £950.54 credit?

    2) How did First Utility allow a domestic customer to get over £600 in debt (or over £950 in credit) in the first place?

    3) First Utility should have to prove that the £611 worth of energy was used after January 2017. If it was used before that date then it is outside the 12 month period for back billing.
    • minislim
    • By minislim 8th Mar 18, 4:17 PM
    • 296 Posts
    • 165 Thanks
    • #4
    • 8th Mar 18, 4:17 PM
    • #4
    • 8th Mar 18, 4:17 PM
    well that's not great advertising for first utility.

    if they incorrectly calculated the bill in the first place and even after were questioned about it, still offered the refund the only good will gesture they should be offering is to write off the whole amount.

    its a silly and expensive mistake.
    but with bad press like this it'll cost them more than the £1500 that they could have written off
    • Cardew
    • By Cardew 8th Mar 18, 10:02 PM
    • 27,359 Posts
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    • #5
    • 8th Mar 18, 10:02 PM
    • #5
    • 8th Mar 18, 10:02 PM
    3) First Utility should have to prove that the £611 worth of energy was used after January 2017. If it was used before that date then it is outside the 12 month period for back billing.
    Originally posted by One-Eye
    The 12 month back billing provision applies when no bill has be sent. In this case a bill(s) was sent - albeit an incorrect bill.

    There are many cases where firms/banks etc have made mistakes e.g. £1million wrongly credited to an account and the firm have 6 years to correct that mistake.

    There have been posts on MSE of cases where people believe that to pay back money would cause hardship, and thus have 'got away' with not paying. In the subject case the £1,500 has been spent on refurbishments.

    This is the view of The Financial Ombudsman

    Where we are satisfied that the consumer had in all honesty not realised that the money was not intended for them, we will generally look to see what they did with the money before the mistake was noticed.
    We will normally uphold complaints like this only where the consumer's position changed in such a way that it would be unfair for them now to have to pay back some or all of the money. To decide whether this has happened, we are likely to need to ask the consumer for details about their wider financial situation - so that we can fairly assess the impact on them of what has happened.
    Where we believe there is no reason why the consumer should not, in all fairness, be asked to pay back the money, we expect the financial business to allow them to do so in a way that does not cause them financial hardship.
    The decision we make in these situations is intended to provide a fair outcome for the particular case in question - reflecting its individual facts and circumstances. So the outcome might, for example, include one or more of the following:
    • the consumer must pay the financial business back all the money, but should be allowed to do so by interest-free instalments over time;
    • the consumer should receive compensation for the upset and inconvenience caused to them by the financial business's mistake;
    • the consumer is not required to pay the financial business back some of the money; and/or
    • the consumer is not required to pay the financial business back any of the money.
    • Hengus
    • By Hengus 9th Mar 18, 9:03 AM
    • 5,908 Posts
    • 3,642 Thanks
    • #6
    • 9th Mar 18, 9:03 AM
    • #6
    • 9th Mar 18, 9:03 AM
    Given @Cardew's comments above, this is a tricky one to call. It could be argued that the consumer did suspect that something was awry with the Final Bill/credit. It could also be argued that consumer did what was reasonable to get the credit balance checked so, in truth, the supplier failed the customer on two separate occasions. One, it raised an incorrect bill and, two, it failed to carry out a proper review when the matter was brought to its attention. It is most certainly a case that is worthy of an Ombudsman review/decision.
    • House Martin
    • By House Martin 9th Mar 18, 9:19 AM
    • 1,371 Posts
    • 1,158 Thanks
    House Martin
    • #7
    • 9th Mar 18, 9:19 AM
    • #7
    • 9th Mar 18, 9:19 AM
    Could easily be Dad has happily been accepting super low bills for years because hes failed to inform the supplier that the Eco 7 bills have been transposed and hes been getting the day rate at the night rate price for a few years.
    I ve seen this happening so much over the years. Its so common with a computer in charge of the billing process which has nt been programmed to recognise it.Garbage in garbage out.
    Customers generally will sit back and be happy about such a nice low bill for years . They know something is wrong though
    One case I remember reading a eco 7 digital Ampy meter i read the correct day and night registers. I had informed him that it looked like a transposed reading ( because the day rate went out of tolerance ) and told him to expect a catch up bill .
    So I went back later on to check with him . He d received a nice fat bill and was nt happy, £800 ish. He complains to BG and the idiots reversed it ! can t upset the customers .
    I can t believe how stupid suppliers are. They can easily see a bill and see that the night rate and day rate are swapped over.What sort of customer who has gas central heating, is suddenly using lots of kwh s between 12.30 am and 7 am and using only a few for the 14 hrs day rate. Their precious money saving auto billing systems don`t work. We never had this happening when humans were in charge.
    That is probably what has happened with this FU customer.
    FU, one of the more scatty suppliers, maybe sent a meter reader round who knew how to tell night from day.
    Bring on smart meters. £11 billion is a bargain to get all this crap ended
    Last edited by House Martin; 09-03-2018 at 12:22 PM.
    • EmmyLou30
    • By EmmyLou30 9th Mar 18, 1:06 PM
    • 414 Posts
    • 513 Thanks
    • #8
    • 9th Mar 18, 1:06 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Mar 18, 1:06 PM
    There's just no way someone could think they were £950 in credit with their electric company - that's over a year's electricity for the average family surely? Ok so he checked with the provider and was assured it was correct but would you not keep it ring fenced for when they possibly realised their mistake and asked for it back. Spending it was his own foolish choice and now he can't expect not to have to pay it back. A goodwill gesture and a payment plan is more than generous enough to my mind.
    • badmemory
    • By badmemory 9th Mar 18, 2:24 PM
    • 1,706 Posts
    • 2,300 Thanks
    • #9
    • 9th Mar 18, 2:24 PM
    • #9
    • 9th Mar 18, 2:24 PM
    Bring on smart meters. £11 billion is a bargain to get all this crap ended
    Originally posted by House Martin
    It still won't lead to correct final bills, which should be available within hours not weeks, as the supplier you are leaving loses the info as soon as the switch goes ahead!
    • Smodlet
    • By Smodlet 9th Mar 18, 4:53 PM
    • 3,154 Posts
    • 6,262 Thanks
    As EmmyLou30 implies, there really is no excuse for not knowing what your account balance should be to within about £5, given *algaerhythms or whatever they are called. To be 100 x that amount out, shame on the customer.

    I would hope most MSE forumites know what energy companies are like and deal with them accordingly, as one would with a challenged child. Abdicating responsibility is not an option, imho, but seems to be the first recourse of the snowflake generation. Unfortunately, the rot seems to be spreading to that of their parents'.

    *Yes, I know the word is "algorithms" but there seems to be something rotten in the state of the energy industry.
    What is this life if, sweet wordsmith, we have no time to take the pith?
    Every stew starts with the first onion.
    I took it upon myself to investigate a trifle; it had custard, jelly, soggy sponge things...
    • Johnjdc
    • By Johnjdc 13th Mar 18, 11:28 PM
    • 65 Posts
    • 47 Thanks
    If this went to a proper trial he might find himself in clover thanks to the obscure legal doctrine of "promissory estoppel".

    In summary, if you tell someone who thinks they owe you money that they don't in fact owe you the money, and you spend the money you thought you owed them, they can't then change their minds and ask for the money, even if you technically did owe it to them all along (as long as your behaviour was honest).

    But I guess it's a big risk to go to court with all the added potential expense, and that's what they rely on.
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