Hi All ! I'm hoping you will be able to help and give me some advice please.
My husband has recently opened up a new business. As part of the process I have been helping him as much as I can, even though we have 3 young children.
He opened the shop in September 2013 and by the middle of Sept he was inundated with phone calls from BES Utilities.
My husband's English isn't very good so the last call he received he gave them my number for me to speak to them.
When I took the call it was my understanding that they had already spoken to my husband and he had agreed to something with them.
They went through the whole process of giving me the numbers etc and that my hubby's business would have a standing charge of 0p etc with Npower
and would be charged X amount for usage.
I did explain that he would be using very little gas, but the rep was very persistant and eventually I agreed to a contract,
however this was based on the information they provided at the time.
I now know that that was a very watered down version of the information
and I believe that I was deliberately mis-led with the information provided at the time, so that I would agree to a contract.
At the time they asked for my name and asked for bank details to set up the direct debit,
I provided them with my husband's business account details.
I spoke to my husband later in the evening and he was furious that I provided his bank details without his permission
and that HE didn't agree to anything and wouldn't do so.
And on reflection I agreed that I was wrong, however felt that as a business they should have asked if I had the account holder's permission which they didn't !!
I contacted BES Utilities to cancel the contract and was told that I couldn't and that there wasn't a "Cooling off" period.
I contact Trading Standards for advice and was told the same thing.
However I did register my enquiry with them and they were helpful in that they have said that the business is solely in my husband's name,
I don't have any authorisation to make any sort of financial based decisions and that I should contact them to tell them so.
I have read the previous threads, re this company and followed some advice.
I have contracted the previous supplier British Gas and asked them to start a Erroneous Transfer,
but they have said that because the supply has already moved over to BES as the supplier that they can't start it, but that I should ask BES to.
My husband in the meantime has written to them stating that he is the sole owner of the Mico-business,
no-one has any authority to act on behalf of the business and that he would like the contract to be declared void and a Erroneous Transfer to begin.
He has also asked for ALL recordings in which he has agreed to the contract relating to his business.
He did send an email on the 1st November but he still hasn't received a reply.
On the 20.11.2013 he sent them a letter 1st Class 'Signed For'.
He has checked the Royal Mail website and it has been delivered to BES
- someone called Buckingham has signed for it.
Whether this is a genuine name or not I don't know !!
In the meantime I have received a letter from NPower welcoming me to them as a business
and informing me that I have agreed to a verbal contract.
As yet I haven't contacted Npower.
But having researched the Data Protection Act I shall be contracting them to amend their records accordingly in that I don't own the business.
I have also researched the Data Protection Act with regard to recording phone calls.
Under the DPA, BES MUST tell you that they are recording your telephone conversation,
which they didn't inform me at the time, however when my husband rang them to try and cancel the contract,
they said they had my recording in which I agreed to the contract.
Also they are in breach of the DPA because they took the bank details,
without the account holder's details. Which my husband mentioned in his letter.
We also researched the Contract Terms Act 1977, and quoted some terms within the legislation.
We also researched contractual law and in his letter the following points were made:-
*** In England, a contract whether verbal or written, MUST follow some basic principles in order to be formed:
- There must be an offer by a party to enter into a contract on certain specific terms. The offer must be accepted – with no variation of terms of the offer and then communicated.
- If there is a variation, then this becomes a counter offer, which itself must be accepted.
- There must be consideration, so something in exchange for what is being offered.
- There must be an intention to create legal relations. Without intention there cannot be a contract.
My husband has stated that there was no intention for him to form a contract relating to his business !!!
I have received numerous phone calls from BES asking me to ring them. This is no doubt to do with the fact they have sent a bill for £293 for 2 week usage of GAS !! Thankfully my husband cancelled the DD, so they no longer have any bank details to take the money from.
In the last week alone I have received about 7 phone calls and 3/4 voicemails asking me to ring them. I have avoided all phone calls to numbers that I don't recognise and added BES as a contact to me phone and added the 4 different phone numbers they have tried ringing me on. This is so that I know which numbers they are using. !!
I shall be emailing UIA, the Data Protection Commissioners Office and Office of Fair Trading to see of they can help with any caselaw which may help me.
I have also emailed BES asking them for a unedited copy of the telephone conversation, and a person's name as the single point of contact for my complaint via email. To date I have not received any reply.
My understanding is that BES have 40 days to supply a copy of the telephone conversation.. So I shall see !!
I would like to think that I am a pretty level headed person, but this has really got me, because normally I would have checked the company before committing my hubby to anything. As a new business my hubby is struggling to find his feet anyway and this issue isn't helping.
So any further help, guidance and case law and authorities/organisations which may help would be most useful.
I am also seriously considering getting legal advise, because I think they have breached the terms of a verbal contract anyway.