Patricia Pearl - Small Claims Procedure - A Practical Guide


An excellent guide for the layperson in how to use the County Court - a must if you are intending to start a claim.

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  1. #1
    Basic Account Holder needjustice Novitiate

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    Default British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Hi
    This is my first post and I am still recovering from the shock of yesterday. Please can someone help us.

    Here are the salient points:-
    a)We bought a property in November 2007 for letting
    b)Contacted B Gas and gave electricity and Gas reading in November 2007
    c)B Gas cannot trace existing electricity suppliers and does nothing about the electricity
    d)3 months later and hours of telephone callsicon. Still B Gas cannot trace current supplier
    e)We let the flat to a young couple in February 2008. For six months she tries to get them to set up an electricity account without success. They claim that there is no meter point ref.
    f)They come to have a look and still cannot establish who is the supplier.
    g)Ten months later they are still dealing with it and they advise my tenant that they have passed it to their investigation dept.
    h)Yesterday I get a phone callicon from a british gas representative. He was at the premises with my tenant and said that he was disconnecting the supply. He also stated that he believed there had been a theft of electricity and that I cannot stop him disconecting the meter. He further stated that if I hand over £640 he will put a prepayment meter in place or else we will have no electricity. He had no warrant.
    i)I had no choice . I asked my tenant to hand him a cheque which I then refunded her by bank transfer the same day. If I was living there myself I would have ordered him out as he had no warrant. The welfare of my tenant however was paramount.
    j)I was also told by the representative that somebody had tampered with the supply of electricity- obviously before we bought the property.

    My question is why did they use such heavy-handed tactics when , after all, we had been in a dialogue with them for 10 months to open an account . I am thinking of suing them but not too sure on what grounds.

    I would appreciate anyone's help

    Thanks
    Dan

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  2. #2
    ATD ATD is offline
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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    With regard to disconnecting the meter, if the Revenue Protection Officer believed that there was evidence of Abstraction of Electricity (ie tampering of some sort) he would be entitled to disconnect the meter under 1989 Electricity Act (schedule 6 I think, but not certain), on the grounds of public safety.

    You should write to British Gas fully outlining the situation, that you have made several attempts to have the supply put into your/your tenants name over the last few months. The will be records of this - probably on the gas account, if they supply you with gas.

    You will probably need to write to both the Revenue Protection Unit, and to cover yourself, The Chairman's office at the registered address (anything going here is dealt with as a high level complaint).

    Do make sure that you communicate the history to them, as you can be held liable even if you did not actually effect the tampering yourself.

    Below is an extract from The UKPRA Website:

    Q) What should I do if I think that I have been wrongly accused of meter tampering?

    A1) Both criminal and civil law apply to meter interference. Depending on the decision of the energy supplier, police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) the criminal aspects will be dealt with at a Magistratesí Court, Crown Court or official caution at a police station. You have the right to trial by jury.


    A2) Regardless of whether proceedings are brought in the criminal court, the registered customer is normally responsible for ensuring that the metering equipment is not interfered with by themselves or anyone else and in the event of any interference are liable for the costs and losses. It is possible therefore that you may be required to pay charges even if another member of the household, or a third party, has interfered with the meter during your period of responsibility.


  3. #3
    Basic Account Holder needjustice Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Thanks for your reply.

    I had a call today from the person handling my complaint. She suggested that I write to the Revenue Protection Unit to get a breakdown of the £640 charges and see if they will consider a reduction.

    My reaction was to tell her that I will only write to British Gas plc's address-for-service and not waste my time with the Revenue Protection unit. Reading your comments , I realise that not writing to the Revenue Protection Unit will leave no trace of the history of what happened and, as you said, could leave me open to prosecution.

    So I will go ahead and write to them. I will also send a copy to their headquarters (Chairmans Office). My Solicitors will also be looking into this.

    Thanks for your advice

    Dan


  4. #4
    ATD ATD is offline
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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    No problem, hopefully you will get everything straightened out.

    I've only ever had limited dealing with the RPU team at BG. They did tend to go in "all guns blazing" so to speak, but in fairness they were always reasonable when the whole story became apparent.

    Just out of curiosity, what type interference with the meter are they claiming has been carried out?


  5. #5
    Basic Account Holder needjustice Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Not too sure at the moment as to what kind of interference they are alleging.

    It has something to do with what he called 'landlord's meter' having been installed. Also , B Gas customer services mentioned something about meters being installed without notifying anyone. Anyway I will soon find out.

    As you say, the RP are quite heavy-handed. The guy however did say to me that they would not prosecute me nor my tenant.To make sure that this does not happen , I have already send two letters this morning by recorded delivery ; one to the RP (using the official contact address for B Gas) and the other to the Registered Office of Centrica plc - chairman's office. The letter explain the whole story about the property and when we bought it, etc.

    I still intend to do everything to recover the £640. I have asked my tenant to keep the paperwork that he passed to her but I have not seen it yet.

    Thanks
    Dan


  6. #6
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    Angry Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    #31
    16-05-2009, 01:36 PM
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    Help - I'm having a similar problem..

    Two guys turned up at my vacant property ( I had gone to show an estate agent round) they claimed they were from British Gas Revenue Protection ( they had no id on them) , were quite heavy handed in their approach and said they were disconnecting the supply as the meter had been ' tampered' with.

    They disconnected the supply ( removed the fuse) and handed me a bill for £640 quid (British Gas Revenue protection letterhead)which was broken down into £250 Investigation Fee and £390 Meter Work Fee.
    Of course I refused to pay as I had no idea about their genuinety. I said I would call their office and speak to someone there and was not going to pay these guys. (British Gas Revenue protection letterhead)

    Later on that day they called me again heavy handedly asking for payment to be made by debit card etc - I refused. I have no knowledege of any meter tampering and do not even know which energy supplier the tenant had been using before he left ( the prop is now vacant).

    The next day I visited the property , and was shocked to find that someone had gained access to the property and completely removed the meter.They have left the live electricity wires exposed!

    I am very worried as to how someone gained access into my property without consent/ permission / warrant/ break in ...and who are these people ? Do they really work for British Gas? Do they have some kind of master key to enter a property like this and are they allowed to do so?

    I have today reported the matter to the police who have given me an Incident Reference number.

    What do I do now ? If my previous tenant had tampered with the supply/ meter how can British Gas charge me £640 for something I had no knowledge of?

    Do I complain British Gas ? or Revenue Protection ? or both? I have no forwarding address for the previous tenant but some of his mail has still been coming to my property including a driving licence from DVLA.

    Please advise ...


  7. #7
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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Sorry to hear this happened to you. The £640 that they charged me included the cost of installing a pay-as-you-go meter. Basically they descended on my tenant and asked for the £640 or else they would disconnect and walk away.

    As I paid the £640 by debit card , they installed the pay-as-you-go meter to replace the existing meter (so-called tempered with)

    The whole thing is totally unacceptable but it is difficult to get justice. I think that in your case you are right to contact the police. There have been a lot of very nasty cases documented on this forum and it is a mystery that the authorities have not descended on British Gas themselves.

    For your information , there is a Revenue Protection dept within British Gas. Unfortunately they are a law unto themselves and don't even answer to their own bosses (British Gas). ATD made some useful comments on my original thread.

    They categorically refused to refund my fee of £640. Instead they said that I could keep B Gas as a supplier or else go somewhere else. They said that they were entitled to be paid for the work on the meter.

    I still have a issue with them regarding another property in the building. That property is being supplied with electricity but as yet B Gas , who have accepted to supply the electricity 1 year ago, still cannot charge for the electricity because the meter is not recognised. I have pleaded with them to install a pay-as-you-go meter but still nothing has happened. No doubt I will get a surprise visit as in the case of the other flat.

    Perhaps the only way to fight them is by joint action. I simply do not have the stamina for this on my own.

    As regards the way they gained access to the property, you should contact the Revenue protection and ask them to tell you They can only do it with a warant (although I believe they can do it in your absence). If they did not have a warrant then it is definitely illegal.

    The RP seem to work in the same way as bailiffs. The deliberately fail to comminicate in the hope that thay can then go in by surprise and use heavy tactics - and get more money.

    Dan


  8. #8
    Basic Account Holder Kittykatss Novitiate

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    Thumbs up Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Hey needjustice, thanks very much for your informative response. I am really cheesed off by this whole episode as now I cant even really let the property or properly show prospective tenants/ agents around.
    Not only will I probably end up £640 out of pocket but also will incur loss of rent.

    They indeed do seem like a law unto themselves, the Police did say to me that utility companies have got the right to enter the premises, however the police officer was not too sure whether they are allowed without showing the warrant and without presence of landlord.

    I have figured that they probably bought a locksmith along hence there is no ' breaking and entering' . This is scary , so basically any mickey mouse utility firm can unlock your home doors and intrude as and when they want, not only utilities but also the thugs they seem to employ to ' protect revenue' Its quite disturbing.

    I have spent most of this afternoon going through old paperwork, am going to send tenancy agreement and tenants passport copies etc to B Gas and this Revenue Dept, that way at least I'll have a record of the fact that I am taking steps to rectify and that I knew nothing about it.

    So in the interim if I get another meter fitted by someone else will I be able to get electricity and rent the flat out whilst this is being sorted?

    Look forwarc to your advice.


  9. #9
    Basic Account Holder needjustice Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Getting a meter fitted by someone else may not be simple. You could enquire and see what they say. There could even be a cost which is higher than the £640.

    In my case I had no choice. Either I pay the £640 or leave the tenant with no electricity for an indefinite period.

    I think the priority is to get the electricity back into the property. I know you must be feeling absolutely gutted now, but you must look at things in a clear and lucid way. This episode should not result in you holding a property that is not rentable.

    It took me many weeks to recover from that experience. My anger towards B Gas would not go away. I considered legal proceedings (even an injunction to stop them doing the same thing to the other property). However, legal action tend to be very expensive and risky.

    I did stress to British Gas (and also to their RP dept) all along that I paid under duress. All my letters were marked "without prejudiceicon". Therefore I can always get back to them when I have enough amunition. At lease both my properties are rented at the moment.

    You should keep a dialogue with them just in case it turns out that only they can reconnect the electricity.

    Dan


  10. #10
    Basic Account Holder Kittykatss Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    I know ! am feeling really gutted, am going to write to BG with all the supposting evidence and details of the tenant, I am distressed that I should be held responsible for this cost purely because I am the landlord. If my tenant was a theif and stole from people would i be responsible for that too!?!

    My builder reckons that if a new meter is fitted the electricity can be reconnected straightaway whilst the ongoing saga with BG continues.

    Many thanks for your help, will keep you posted. Glad to hear that you sorted your issue out though you bore the cost in the end.


  11. #11
    Basic Account Holder Juicebuster Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    If this is still a big issue let me know. I can provide some information that might help innocent parties affected but the BGAS poilcy


  12. #12
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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    I am now facing this same problem! The tenant has just absconded, she owed rent and has left the place in a bit of a mess. My management company have emailed me to say:
    'The biggest problem, however, is the electric meter or rather the lack of. Having checked with British Gas they have informed us they removed the meter as they had found it had been by-passed (looped). British Gas informed us they will not fit a new meter unless the LANDLORD pays £640. The tenant was responsible for payment and also looping the meter. We have argued this point for half an hour on the phone with British Gas, but they will not budge. If you would like to speak to British Gas yourself their telephone number is 0800 048 0202 and ask for the Revenue Protection Team. Perhaps you will have more luck.'

    If anyone can advise or give me an update on their efforts I'd be very grateful.


  13. #13
    Basic Account Holder needjustice Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Quote Originally Posted by Hellsbelles View Post
    I am now facing this same problem! The tenant has just absconded, she owed rent and has left the place in a bit of a mess. My management company have emailed me to say:
    'The biggest problem, however, is the electric meter or rather the lack of. Having checked with British Gas they have informed us they removed the meter as they had found it had been by-passed (looped). British Gas informed us they will not fit a new meter unless the LANDLORD pays £640. The tenant was responsible for payment and also looping the meter. We have argued this point for half an hour on the phone with British Gas, but they will not budge. If you would like to speak to British Gas yourself their telephone number is 0800 048 0202 and ask for the Revenue Protection Team. Perhaps you will have more luck.'

    If anyone can advise or give me an update on their efforts I'd be very grateful.
    When I started the thread some two years ago, I was very shaken by the events and very angry. The matter was resolved by paying the £640.

    You have to treat British Gas and Revenue Protection as two separate organisations (though they are not). This is because once RP goes in British Gas cannot do much.

    In retrospect, I have to say that the £640 is not unreasonable. You have very little choice; no other supplier will consider you and if they did they will almost certainly charge much more to bring in a contractor.

    The big surprise was that they actually installed a normal meter (not pay-as-you-go). But that was not all. I have another flat in the same building with the same dodgy meter problem from previous occupiers. With that other flat, the whole meter change was done by appointment. However British Gas made a gesture of only charging electricity from the day the new meter was installed. So in the end I had a very long free period, much to the benefit of the tenant who was also an innocent party.

    The Revenue Protection normally have intimidating tactics; they just descend on you and want the £640 there and then or else they take away the dodgy meter and leave you with nothing. However, as I dealt directly with the Revenue Protection guy who was visiting, through his mobile phone, things went smoothly. In fact he was very helpful when it turned out that the engineer (from Siemens) needed access to the adjoining shops to temporarily disconnect their supply also so that the work could be carried out.

    I did not feel the need to seek recovery form the people I bought the flats from. They probably did not know about it. In the end it cost a lot of time and £640 for each flat. From the business point of view, there was no break in the tenancy and rental income and therefore no real financial loss.

    I have to say that the lady from British Gas Escalation team who was assigned my case was superb.

    According to the regulations, responsibility lies with the owner of the property. In my case both Revenue Protection and British Gas said at the outset that they believed I was innocent but unfortunately responsible for the meter change costs.


  14. #14
    Basic Account Holder Juicebuster Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Hells...I suggest that you contact Audrey Gallagher at Customer Focus. She is very much aware of this practise and from what I understand she believes British Gas have ceased charging the L/lord a reconnection fee where the meter has been tampered with and their tennant has departed. I am aware of a similar instance recently where I was asked to assist and after the L/lord pointed out these facts to British Gas they dropped all the charges.
    I would also add that the meter is the responsibilty of the bill payer and not the owner of the property. This is why all L/lords must get their tennant to put the utility bills in their own name.
    Please let me know how you get on.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Hi! Thanks to you both for the replies and the information. I'll speak to Consumer Focus and I'll update the forum on the outcome.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    I used to work within that department and I was forced to leave as I never believed in some of their disconnection and, FALSE allegations were put forward by another employee of that department. I say this I have covered law in my education days, and I did voice my concerns with management. BUT, BG Revenue Protection employ thick and thicker people to be managers.

    I can help if people have had or are having problems with British Gas Revenue Protection, more so, if you are a business customer of British Gas and the revenue protection turn up, please let me know.


  17. #17
    Basic Account Holder Hellsbelles Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Update re previous posts: I contacted Consumer Focus as advised by Juicebuster and I followed CF's advise to pay in order to restore power immediately to the property ,and to then send a letter of complaint stating that I paid under duress and that I expected to be refunded. CF also raised the issue at a meeting with BG. I subsequently received a call from BG agreeing that the Revenue Propection Team had unfairly charged me as I hadn't profited in any way from the tenant's action and BG refunded the fee. Thanks for your responses and advice.


  18. #18
    Basic Account Holder DufferNotts Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Please Help.

    Purchased a chip shop in Nov last year, Put it on market to sell as it was only for an investment. Have been running it for under a year. Last week had a visit from a guy from the enforcement dept, he told me he was here to see the meter was ok so I let him in and showed him where meter was. He told me the meter was very old and needed replacing so I said not a prob. He came back the folowing week with two othr men, changed meter and left a letter with the staff saying that he beleived the meter had been tampered with and that he would investigate this within seven days.
    After reading these reviews im very very worried that they may cut me off and my business will close or issue me with a massive fine. The old owner gave me some of his bills and he was mearly paying £120 a month compared to my £380/400 a month.
    Two weeks prior to his visit we had two meter reads, then the day after he put a new meter in we had another visit for a meter read?
    Please can you offer any advice or help.


  19. #19
    Basic Account Holder pardis399 Novitiate

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    Default Re: British Gas-Enforcement dept visit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay7 View Post
    I used to work within that department and I was forced to leave as I never believed in some of their disconnection and, FALSE allegations were put forward by another employee of that department. I say this I have covered law in my education days, and I did voice my concerns with management. BUT, BG Revenue Protection employ thick and thicker people to be managers.

    I can help if people have had or are having problems with British Gas Revenue Protection, more so, if you are a business customer of British Gas and the revenue protection turn up, please let me know.
    Dear Jay7,
    I had RP officer in my takeaway recently who believed there was a tampering with gas meter. He disconnected the meter and took it for testing. I had rented the shop to one of my staff few months ago and I have legal tenancy.My Big mistake was I left it with him to inform the utility suppliers of change in bills name and he has not done it.

    My tenant has disappeared since business closed and there is no gas connection in premises. Also, I am worried that I would receive a huge bill for what he is done as my name is still on account.
    Can you advice me if there is anything I can do? Does having a solicitor helps to deal with RPU or they have no power against RP?

    Many thanks



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