I would welcome some advice on dealing with a Claimform I have received through the post, which was issued on 1 Feb 2017.
I intend to defend the claim but need advice on what I need to send back in the first instance and going forward how to prepare the defence.
The debt is with Co-operative Energy for Gas/Electricity supply and goes back to 2015.
We set up an account in Dec 2014/Jan 2015 and initially had no problems.
We set up the direct debit for payments and assumed everything was ok.
However, in September 2015 we received correspondence claiming the account was in arrears due to non-payment to the tune of £949.00.
I queried this directly with them as we had a direct debit in place and they should have been collecting payment automatically.
I also queried why they elected to not contact me for nine months before demanding payment.
They wanted to recover the whole amount and were unwilling to allow us to spread the debt over a number of coming months to ease the burden.
They eventually agreed to send us further documents to initiate a new direct debit to clear the debt which was again put in place.
We moved house in Jan 2016 but stayed with the same provider.
Things went quiet and we didn't hear anything until
we received correspondence from a debt collector (UK Search Ltd) around 3 August 2016 chasing payment.
This was not even sent to us at the new address but sent to my sister-in-law who was listed as an alternative contact address by our previous landlord.
The amount had inexplicably jumped to £1,412.49.
I contacted UK Search Ltd to ask why the debt was higher and requested a breakdown of where this amount had come from.
I also requested to be contacted direct rather than chasing me at my sister-in-law's address.
This took some time for them to implement.
They went away to get the amount clarified from Co-Op.
After a couple of weeks, I received a very brief statement of the outstanding amount.
I contacted UK Search Ltd and said it was insufficient as it did not clarify why there was an additional £500 on the debt or where it had come from.
They simply said that was the information that Co-Op provided and I had to pay it.
I refused to pay money beyond what I actually owed (£949).
I then received another letter saying they would offer me to pay £775 to clear the debt if paid by 5 Oct.
I tried to raise the funds as this seemed a good offer but was unable to raise the money in the three week period they specified.
They have emailed a couple of times and leave phone messages for me to contact them every day to which I have not responded. On February 4 I received a Claim Form dated 1 Feb 2017.
Please can you advise my next steps as I need to dispute the amount.
The amount claimed has risen again to £1,530.13 and with court fees and legal representatives cost now stands at £1,715.13.
I would be grateful for assistance as I intend to acknowledge service but want to defend it and require and help on my next steps please.
Thank you in advance.