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Emily1234

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  1. Hi, We've been going through the ombudsman process. Not great at the minute - think BG are being quite entrenched in their opinions even to the ombudsman. The initial report reads as if he agrees that my parents didn't intentionally do anything wrong but the full amount still stands and we should sign up with them for a year to monitor usage and BG can reconsider after a year. Obviously that doesn't work for us. We've talked to the ombudsman who is very sympathetic but doesn't feel he has enough ammunition to go against BGs business decisions in calculations. We had given a calculation based on turnover and meals. BG used 4 hours of gas per day and when questioned apparently it's a "business decision". We have two weeks to come up with additional evidence to help the ombudsman justify our point of view more. I think I need to find some information that 1. Some third party information which shows what an "average" takeaway makes in sales. So I can turn their calculation of 4 hours back into turnover to show it's not reasonable. 2. Definitions of legality. BG says theft of gas is illegal and therefore 6 years does not apply. Everything I've read shows there needs to be intent in order to be theft. Everything he's written in his report seems to say he agrees there wasn't an intentional act but he doesn't seem confident enough to limit it back to 6 years. So back to the question of what is illegal vs shipperless supply. But it seems like I need to help the ombudsman to make his view. After the preliminary report both BG and us have 2 weeks to review and appeal and then final decision is made and is binding. I guess at least the saga is coming to an end soon.
  2. Meter is defo unregistered - no record of it on the system. It has a date on it which pre dates my parents but other than that nothing. They say it's illegal because there's no record of the pipes with the local distribution network. I found an entry on national grid which shows two supplies to the address (one residential and one commercial). Records in this industry is all a bit of a mess in my opinion Still an ongoing saga. Complaint has now been escalated to a Revenue Protection manager. Husbands been dealing with him for me as I'm getting too stressed about it. They recognise that my parents dont speak good English (my father not understanding who they were and what they were doing was why they were refused access). RPO officer admitted on the first phone call that he maybe should've offered translation services but are now saying that it was documented that he did and that he found my father very threatening. At first I felt that they were very heavy handed , now I actually think they are liars. The manager even asked "what reason would he have to lie". Well maybe the fact that he's a fee earner for BG who carried out a flawed investigation to paint a one sided story about the bad Chinese man now needs to cover his backside? They haven't really answered our queries adequately, still haven't acknowledged that they have taken a domestic supply, nor given us info on how they calculated their bill apart from "they've used industry averages approved by regulator". Incidently for those who were debating this previously: - pipes were previously all owned by "national grid". Now they've been carved up into geography and different distribution networks own them (think there's about 5 - national grid/cadence still owns a big chunk.) - the gas inside belongs to the "shipper" who isn't the company that bills you. But British Gas does I think have a shipping arm. - the gas ownership transfers to the billing company at the point of entering the meter. After that point you and your gas company are responsible for the pipes etc. In order to disconnect at the mains on the street BG have to apply to the local distribution network (the pipe owners) just like any other customer (but they probably have a special relationship with them I suppose). BG would have to pay a fee to disconnect at street - which no doubt they'll try to pass back to us. (Source : national grid website) One of the reasons BG have said that the unregistered supply is "illegal" is because they couldn't find a record of two connections going to the address from the local gas distribution network. I called the distribution network myself so can confirm that. However, when I do a simple search on the national grid website - it clearly shows two supplies for the address. One residential and one commercial. Haven't informed BG of this yet but will be in our next set of correspondence. The industry feels like a bit of a joke to me. Data and records seem to be a mess and I truly now feel that BG, this private company is abusing the legal powers they've been entrusted with in an attempt to maximise the fees they get. I've been warned again that full disconnection is imminent. We're not saying we won't pay a penny but how is £ in full in relation to the last 13 years fair? I believe some fault lies with BG not registering things correctly, not picking this up earlier (when the meter man came for readings) and the industry data as a whole being a mess. Of course they believe my parents are criminals apart from "of course you knew - we don't believe you didn't" and "the fact you didn't let us in when we asked shows that you know" and fabricated case notes from the RP officer they haven't given us any proper evidence that my parents have committed a criminal act. Sorry just ranting now. Waiting for an independent report to come back from our own gas expert and then will set out our final position with BG. Hoping to get a deadlock letter to speed things up and that the ombudsman is actually impartial. Going to contact MP office tomorrow. I suspect we will have to let this all just play out since the RP officer started changing his account of what happened I've become quite outraged at the level of power these people have. When it comes down to it they are essentially fee earners for a private company. I really hope they don't work to monetary targets...
  3. I also wonder why it was not picked up previously. I've got the financial accounts now for the last 6 years and have worked out a calculation based on what you suggested (sales/average meal price to get number of meals) and it is a fraction of what they are asking for. Still significant to parents but I feel a much fairer figure. I had a look at BGs number and although I don't have the detailed calculations I think you are right that they have based it on the entire opening hours as if they were cooking continuously over the last 14 years (the period they want to bill us for). I've called ombudsman and registered complaint but as someone's already said they can't do anything right now. Solicitor looking through our info this morning hopefully. Looked up our MP - next clinic is not until October. Will look into getting in touch with their office later on today once I hear back from the solicitor.
  4. Thanks everyone - it is a grey area at best. Formal letter states -> Disconnection because of evidence of meter tampering. Gas Act 1986 2B Paragraph 10**. They probably (wrongly) suspected that we had somehow routed the gas from the registered meter illegally and made that gas flow through an illegal meter with nothing registering on the registered meter etc etc. We've not had any evidence from them of the supposed "meter tamper". But this was how they got their warrant. When they came to seize the meter their claim is that they supply the entire address and this was a rouge meter. I've asked why its not shipperless and haven't really received an answer that I understand or makes sense to me. Something about the pipes outside already being registered/not registered? Both explanations have been told to me. I thought shipperless was simply a proper meter that had not been registered to a supplier. I feel they are walking a line with the use of their powers. The prime example being the fact that they cut the domestic supply off because they saw a gas engineer on site and used that as an indication that we were trying to illegally get reconnected. When we asked why they were escalating this to the next stage so quickly when clearly we're trying to get it resolved, we didn't really get a straight answer. It makes me question whether Revenue Protection are fee earners for BG and they are under pressure to hit certain targets. But I guess if that was the case he's not really being very commercial about it. He must have just taken a major dislike to us. I don't know. We're expecting diggers to turn up any minute now. It's crazy how much this has escalated in the space of two weeks. Thanks again for your thoughts though. All very useful.
  5. Thanks Unclebulgaria I will look into the calculations. I now think years and years ago there used to be 2 separate addresses which over the years was turned into one with the post office. We now know there are definitely two separate supplies with only one registered with BG and the other one unregistered and unknown until all this started. Now that this has all come to light we acknowledge that something needs to be paid. But I don't agree with revenue protection's stance that all responsibility lies with the consumer and the tactics they are using to put pressure on them to just pay the estimated amount they are demanding in full. Also is it BG who should be getting the payment or one of the companies that transport the gas?? There has been no meter tampering (and I don't think they have evidence of meter tampering even though that is what they have used to disconnect them). I think the difference between an unregistered and illegal supply is purely to do with intent. I honestly think this was originally connected up properly and something was missed at registration or a reconnection before our time (The unregistered meter has a year on it , next to the serial number, which predates my parents). Surfer01 - I hope you are right. Our solicitor is getting in touch with BG on Monday for us and hopefully will be able to get them under control to have a sensible conversation before they escalate this even further. I will look into the MP route - what can they do in a situation like this?
  6. They talked about digging up pavements so maybe that is what they're doing. I can't believe they jumped straight to "illegal reconnection" just because he saw someone on site when we were asking for an independent opinion. Parents try to be very careful with energy use and the bills they have been paying goes into the accounts. No ones ever mentioned anything to them. Business is not amazing - just lets them tick by until retirement. They do also have electric at the premises which I've now checked and is all fine (phew) - but paying crazy prices so need to get them onto a better rate once I sort this mess out. I have been give calculations by the RPO but I need to look at them in more detail as it's just a load of numbers and I don't know where he's getting the estimated usage from. He states it's based on gas appliances and opening hours. Is there some kind of industry standard that he will be referencing to that I should know about? Only the wok burners use gas but I think he may have grossly overestimated their usage. There are nights when the burners are only on for say 20 minutes as they've only done a few orders. I'd like to think I can deal with sorting out the debt part, agreeing payment plans etc if I was dealing with normal British Gas and not being bulldozed by Revenue Protection who have clearly decided parents are criminals and their aim is to use the full force of their legal powers and justify actions by twisting events and employing intimidation tactics.
  7. Thanks honeybee - I will certainly give the ombudsman a call on Monday. They are escalating matters at such a speed it's making it difficult to think. We queried with the Revenue Protection officer how long it would be before they switched the pipes off and dig them up from the street. He said he didn't know and would let us know beforehand but im not sure I believe that. Can anyone shed some light on how long this process would usually take? I guess if he hides behind "Gas safety" he can do almost anything...
  8. Also - the fact they knew we had a gas engineer out to examine the set up also suggests to me that they have been camped outside the premises watching them....how horrible is that? Sorry - OMBs?
  9. Hello All, Apologies for not getting back sooner. I didn't seem to have received the notification that a message has been posted. things have gone from bad to worse and i am dumbfounded by the actions and tactics used by BG. As was suggested citizens advice was not much help and we had to seek independent legal advice. We were told to get an independent report from a gas professional addressing some of the accusations which we have done and should be getting this afternoon. In the meantime we have logged a complaint with British Gas but it seems that Revenue Protection are almost a covert arm of BG and don't answer to the same people. Emails are "not received" by the Revenue Protection Officer and any attempts to ask for information on the facts take time to come back. Which would be fine had they not further escalated the situation by removing the domestic meter and informing us that they have applied for the gas to be disconnected from the mains which will involve digging the ground and pipes up??!! When asked why they were being so heavy handed they said it's "policy". - pay up in full or we will disconnect you forever and the costs will be so prohibitive to get reconnected you won't be able to get back on your feet. We will add you to some blacklisted data base so no one will supply you again. No you can't complain because we don't answer to the normal British Gas complaints team. I will let you have details of our own complaints process but not until Monday. You won't be able to put a complaint together or challenge any accusations because we'll have dug the ground up and stranded you forever. I just do not understand how they can operate in such a way. It's almost like some kind of money collection racket. Pay up or else! Oh and when we asked why they took the domestic supply - their reply was that they saw a gas engineer at the property and assumed we were trying to illegally reconnect supply?! No - we were trying to get an opinion on all the things you've been saying that we've done because we don't understand gas like you do! I guess their tactics are designed to make you feel like things are hopeless. At the moment I certainly do feel as if we're being bullied and threatened and I can't see a way out.
  10. Hi all, Been speaking to citizens advice special help unit. Although they are sympathetic and helping me to gather information I do feel there's an element of them trying to sell BGas story and point of view to me. when Revenue Protection are involved it is serious. Backbilling code won't apply because it's not BGs mistake with billing???!! They are saying that it is an illegal connection which was disconnected and then turned back on. Therefore all responsibility falls to my parents. She said it would be highly unlikely they will be able to get the supply back on (to set my expectations) and that the ombudsman don't get involved in cases of meter tampering/illegal connections so would probably be a case where we would have to get solicitors involved. My questions: 1. If BG are seeking to recover payment for estimated energy used from the date it was deemed we entered into an agreement with BG Business is that not back billing? 2. What is the difference between a shipperless and an "illegal" supply. My parents did not get mr jimmy from the pub to go and hack the gas grid. No one had any idea at all that there was a meter there until BG opened it up and physically took it. It was never registered. The pipes outside the property are proper gas pipes but BG claim it was disconnected and we've "illegally" reconnected it. Is there a database of when pipes are disconnected? Is it that unfeasible that they were supposed to disconnect it years ago and never did??? The takeaway has always had a gas supply. This feels like it's going to be a slog of a fight. We've also been billed for the pleasure of the time of Revenue Protection.
  11. Yes - both meters at the same house number. But one is located outside in front of the residential house (the registered meter) and the other (unregistered meter) has been inside the takeaway boxed in near the electric meters. Speaking to Eon last week they did say it was unusual but possible to have 2 meters at one address. Also I heard the words "illegal meter" when the unregistered one was being referred to. Presume that's why they can seize it? Illegal meter sounds scarier than an unregistered meter... Had a phone call from BG man - the demand will be for tens of thousands and policy is "payment in full" before the gas can be reconnected. We've asked him to look at the limitions policy and everything is still on nice speaking terms for now. But surely it is not in BGs interest to try and bankrupt an individual who in good faith has been their customer for nearly 20 years??? I agree that I'm probably going to have to take it to the ombudsman. My issue right now though is they're holding the gas supply to the business hostage, stopping my parents ability to earn and access to a working kitchen. They're not going to be able to wait until this is resolved. Also BG man seemed unaware of the backbilling legislation and asked us to send documents about it over. I found that comment a bit strange. If he goes around catching fraud and unbilled Gas surely he would know about these rules??
  12. Well I think the meter tampering thing started when they inspected the meter that everyone knows about and is registered to BG and the local youths must have been fiddling it but I don't think there's actually anything wrong with that meter. It has a low reading because my parents never turn on the heating. I guess the main thing I need to ascertain is whether BG had a right to take a meter that wasn't registered to them (or anyone ) but is at an address that they supply. And if they supply that address could they bill for any meter that is at that address regardless of whether it is registered to them or not.
  13. Hi Surfer01, The meter is defo not registered to anyone. I was in the process of registering it with Eon (on advice of citizens advice to pick a company to register it) - but only after we realised there was an additional meter when my father flagged up the "strange man who came round and wanted to gain access to the electricity box". It's in very early stages so I doubt the forms have even got anywhere. I think officially it is still unregistered. Unless BG seizing it made it their meter. But I guess BG's argument is that the supply the whole of the address and because I ticked a box at some point telling them it was a business therefore they are entitled to bill for any gas that comes into the takeaway? The ironic thing is that I do vaguely remember these letters and a conversation between my parents about VAT and that they should tell them we're a business because he knows that you're supposed to pay more VAT if its business gas and therefore it shouldn't be left as residential... Part of me wonders whether they thought they were uncovering some elaborate meter tampering, diverting gas stealing scheme and its actually just a couple of non english speakers who don't have a clue what's going on. Apparently BG man said that it looks as if the pipes were in the process of being disconnected at one point but then never did. (If they had we would've sorted this out sooner!) Something about safety as well - maybe saying they are allowed to take the meter away for safety reasons??
  14. Thanks for the responses - its been a stressful weekend. we've been in touch with the British Gas man (the one who came to take the meter away) and explained the situation as we saw it. He's not accusing them of any meter tampering which on the one hand is good news. But it's as you've said ericsbrother, he wants to backbill. He did actually acknowledge that he did not realise the extent of the language barrier, and perhaps he should've thought about asking for an interpreter - I'm not sure how "I don't speak english" could've been interpreted but it needed to be a constructive conversation and he did seem an ok guy. We explained my father's background (they live in a rough area, been burgled, hospitalised when youths threw fireworks into the property, constant vandalism) as to why he is a suspicious man and didn't feel comfortable with the man who wouldn't give any information about where he was from, taking photos and wanting to gain access to his property. He explained that due to the nature of his job (Revenue Protection) they don't give out information about themselves. I still don't understand though why there wasn't an official BG letter asking for access before a warrant was obtained. BG man has said that there will be a bill generated for back to 2003. Apparently this was the point where we specifically asked British Gas to supply the Takeaway. I can only assume a letter came back then, I was a teenager living at home and I probably ticked a box which asked whether the address had a business and didn't know to look any closer at it. My priority at the minute is to get the gas supply back on as my parents don't have a working kitchen in the residential part house and relies on the kitchen in the takeaway. Father is a poorly controlled diabetic and this is obviously not helping with how he's supposed to eat. BG man has said that a significant proportion of the bill needs to be paid before reconnection. I don't know what this bill will be as BG man is still calculating it. Parents live hand to mouth as it is. Business doesn't make much money but more or less enough for them to get buy so they can work (60+ hours a week) and not claim benefits. They're sole traders so any debt will be to them personally. I really don't know how they're going to afford this payment. ...obviously made worse by the fact its not quantified yet. I've contacted citizens advice who have referred me to the Consumer Focus Extra Help Unit, but I've been told it may be a few days before they get back to me. In the meantime any advice would be greatly appreciated. It feels to me that the system has failed them. Its taken me two weeks, numerous phone calls etc to work out the situation. They moved into the property all those years ago and rang utilities to tell them they're there. They thought in they did what they should do in good faith. Should they really bear so much of the responsibility? I've looked at their bills - the meter they have been getting billed for, they've been paying crazy prices. Clearly not sophisticated consumers at all. Thanks all.
  15. The takeaway has lost supply. Parents have never done anything themselves to divert supply. I think this set up must have always been the case since they moved in. 2 meters. One takeaway, one residential. Both officially classed under the same door number. There's not any paperwork to check - bills have come from British Gas but when I started investigating they have only been billing one meter. The other appears to be unregistered. They haven't cut off the meter that is registered to them. (Which now on investigation appears to be for residential property but logged with British gas buslness somehow). It's a meter that is strictly on the premises of the supply address though. I think the takeaway and residential property should really be thought of as two separate addresses they've always been considered as one. I just feel this has all been a bit heavy handed as to my parents there was no warning of being cut off and no official letters sent. If something had been sent I would've been able to intercept earlier. Like I said he did leave a number on the first visit but it was scribbled on a piece of paper with only a first name rather than a business card and I didn't ring it back. It wasn't registered to another supplier but when I rang transco and found out it wasn't registered they and citizen advice told me to pick a supplier and register it. Which was what I was in the process of doing through uswitch who pointed me to Eon. It is very confusing indeed and something that my parents would not have been able to unravel on their own. I'm concerned that the accusation of meter tampering appears quite serious and that is not the case at all.
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