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Author: Subject: Advice on backdated utility bills

posted on 16/1/19 at 11:10 AM Reply With Quote
Advice on backdated utility bills

The story. My Dad is pretty old, but until a few years ago was letting some small flats/studios etc. He was paying British Gas via a business account for gas and electric. 3 Years ago, that business stopped, and the gas/electric accounts closed. We understand all bills were paid.

Then last year, we got a bill for circa 500, with absolutely no explanation. We were told several times copies of the bills it related to had been sent, but none arrived, only ever more threatening letters. I eventually stepped in, and wrote a stiff email saying explain the bill and stop harassing. Then nothing until November when a "Louise Kimber" got in touch asking for the 500. Turns out that a DD wasn't paid (it was cancelled by my Dad, something to to with changing bank accounts) BUT the bill never carried over onto subsequent bills. And we are unsure if it did get paid because of this.
"Louise" has sent a spreadsheet covering some payments, but it is all reference numbers and not meter readings, so we can't work out what was going on.

And then in December, another bill arrived, dated December 2014, asking for 700ish. Again, a complete surprise, with some estimated readings and so on.

I have emailed "Louise" asking for a complete set of copies of bills from mid 2014, and added she should check if they think there are any more outstanding bills they are likely to send.

The troubling part is, if these bills were originally sent 3-4 years ago, they won't write them off under their "2 year" rule. But being so long ago, it is impossible for us to check where the errors are.

Should we expect BG to write this off? I think if they are unable to provide supporting documentation they will have to. We have some of the last bills somewhere, which show none of this money owing. Indeed, these 2 outstanding bills never carried over to subsequent bills. Which is why we are worried there is a billing error.

To make matters worse, parents have move house, though still have the old one while it is cleared out/prepared to sell. But I really don't want to give BG their new address. And my Dad is loosing the ability to speak/write/express himself, so don't want to worry him.

So any suggestions or legal perspectives on this? Best to refer to ofgem? or ask them to take it to County Court (I wonder what a magistrate/judge would make of it?)

(apologies for the long post. It is getting frustrating and my common sense approach has run out of steam )

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posted on 16/1/19 at 11:52 AM Reply With Quote
Sounds a worrying situation for you to be in and certainly unfair for an aging person who may not be in a position to stand up to BG.

As a first step the Citizens Advice Bureau might be a place to start. They may be able to offer some free guidance on how to approach this and who to speak to next. OFGEM may well be one of their suggestions.

I'm currently trying to help SWMBOs aging father with some banking queries he has. Whilst I I don't think the bank have done anything wrong trying to expain this to him is proving somewhat challenging.

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posted on 16/1/19 at 12:31 PM Reply With Quote
Contact the Energy Ombudsman. They helped me big time when Scottish Power decided to charge me around 1500 over 5 or 6 bills which also overlapped periods with each other over around 1.5 years of gas/Electric bills I had ALREADY paid. They would not give me any reason why this happened nor why they were recalculating bills that have been paid nor verified the overlapping periods, just a consistent "you owe this money so pay it or court/debt collectors" no investigation or anything.

Ombudsman stepped in and sorted it out. Can't recall what the settlement was but didn't go to court and think all that was paid was the amount actually owed for the quarter that was outstanding, not the recalculated stuff. Basically meant SP had to investigate things rather than just demand money coz ultimately, we suffer with credit scores or bad reports if we don't do anything and they have reduced least Ombudsman can result in referral to the correct authorities and fines.

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Mr Whippy

posted on 16/1/19 at 12:47 PM Reply With Quote
^ good advice
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posted on 16/1/19 at 12:50 PM Reply With Quote
OK, seems ofgem is teh way forward. I presume they can sort though all the information.

"Louise" has replied very quickly, normally it is on a Saturday morning for some reason. (geffo a real BG email address!) with a large PDF folder that I will look at. And it seems the 2014 bill has indeed been paid. Which is worrying. And they are trying to bill again.

More delving required...

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posted on 16/1/19 at 06:27 PM Reply With Quote
You should be able to see what was paid by getting copies of bank statements, these can be obtained via a online search, writing to the bank or going to the bank in person.

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posted on 16/1/19 at 08:08 PM Reply With Quote
You say they were paid from a business account, did your father use a limited company to rent the properties? If so the problem is between British Gas and the company not your father personally.

A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.

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steve m

posted on 16/1/19 at 08:30 PM Reply With Quote
I would bet its a scam, as do they know the address's of all the properties ?

have a look at the following website for more info on utility bills

Thats was probably spelt wrong, or had some grammer, that the "grammer police have to have a moan at

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posted on 17/1/19 at 09:51 AM Reply With Quote
I don't think you can involve the ombudsman until you have exhausted BG's own complaints procedure, but certainly worth talking to Citizens advice, I think they are chancing their arm on such an old bill, as you say, it makes it almost impossible for you to check.

If it was me I would fight it all the way to court if necessary, I find it highly unlikely any judge would find in their favour unless they can prove theyt have been asking for the money all along, I fail to understand how it could take 4 years b4 they start chasing seriously

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