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British Gas threatening Entry Warrant to "The Occupier"

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Hi, I've got a little bit of a problem. I've been receiving bills and threats from British Gas addressed to 'The Occupier' that are slowly getting out of hand.

 

The silly thing is I already have an account with BG, fully paid and up to date, and more importantly these new bills don't have the same gas meter number as the one that supplies my apartment!

 

Obviously British Gas have messed up their billing system, but I can't get any sense of out them. I made three phone calls explaining the situation, but was repeatedly told to ignore the bills. I decided letters were probably the way forward, so I sent them a letter of complaint but haven't received a reply. I've also sent a letter to my letting agent informing them of the situation - no reply there either.

 

Anyway, yesterday I received a letter informing me in big capital letters that BRITISH GAS WILL BE OBTAINING A WARRANT TO ENTER THE PREMISES. Really, can they do that? Can they do that when it's addressed to The Occupier?

 

I'm confident I am legally in the right, with proof to back everything up, but I wouldn't be surprised if they continued with their silly charade and blindly carried out one of their 'threats' without properly investigating.

 

The question is, what is the worst British Gas can do in this situation? And how do I stop this stupid game when no-one will listen to me? Your advice is much appreciated :)

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You say you live in an appartment, then I take it each appartment has its own supply and meter. Is your account in your name? Have you told them your meter number when you spoke to them? When was the last time your meter was read and have you at any time refused entry to BG to read your meter? If not I suggest you arrange to get someone out to actually see and check your meter, this should, hopefully sort out the problem. It sounds as if, as you say their metering records are up the shute. This is one of the problems of having so many different suppliers.

A few years back when BG was "the Gas Board" you would have had someone like me paying you a visit and sorting the problem out there and then... Why did you think I left?????

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Hi, thanks for your reply. I have an account with BG, with proof that all bills have been paid up to the present date. The new bills they are sending are definitely a mistake. I'm pretty sure they are intended for another apartment, if I could check I'm sure I'd find the gas meter with the matching number in one of them.

 

The problem I'm having is trying to get British Gas to listen to me and fix their mistake! When I phone up they refuse to escalate my complaint, saying that because the bills/threats are addressed to 'The Occupier' I must ignore them. And they won't reply to my letters either.

 

The real thing I'm worried about is whether British Gas can actually go ahead with their threats when they're simply addressed to 'The Occupier'? I have a feeling this problem will take me a while to resolve, and in the mean time it looks like British Gas are not going to stop their bullying...

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No they cannot take the 'occupier' to court.

 

Watch out that they do not out your name on the court papers - I have a friend that this happened to. If this should happen you must get hold of BG's warrant officer if necessary by going to court. There is no way he can let this go into court if you are there to tell the magistrate that this is a nonsense. In fact the session that you will go to is used by the magistrate to sign default warrants against defendents who have not turned up so if you are there and BG persist the case will be deferred to another day.

 

My friend got BG to reduce her £900 bill to £550 and she was paid £150 compensation as well.

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British Gas are not going to stop their bullying...

 

 

How can they be bullying you? You should be laughing at their incompetence and enjoying them stewing in their own juice!

 

You have told them often enough that this is an error. If they take any further action write a full complaint to there public relations department. Do not forget to ask for compensation - start with £150 for the wasted phone calls, letters, your valuable time spent and your anxiety and annoyance.

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Thanks for the advice pelham9, I will try and seek compensation as well. I am fully prepared to stand my ground and show them up for their incompetance, I'm just annoyed that is has to come to this, it's such a waste of time!

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"these new bills don't have the same gas meter number as the one that supplies my apartment"

 

Are you certain of this? Perhaps this bill was generated as a result of somebody realizing they had the 'wrong' meter for another one of the apartment. All gas & elec supplies are held on a central database which can be wrong. Mistakes happen most often with appartments/flats and new builds.

 

If your meter is inside the proporty then it is clearcut. If there are like twelve meters in a cupboard and 'somebody' labelled them up many moons ago it could well be that the one on your account is wrong.

 

However that said to the best of my knowledge you can't take enforcement action against the occupiar. In fact I recall reading something relating to E.On saying that breached OFT guidelines on debt collection.

 

Worst case scenario and you've been billed on the wrong meter you'll still have any credits you have paid to go towards the 'new' bill and they have to calculate this cautiously as it is not your fault in anyway.


The views I express here are mere speculation based on my experience. I am not qualified nor insured to give legal advice and any action you take will be at your own risk.

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Indebtstudent's suggestion that your meters may be labelled incorectly is a good one but it is far more likely that it is BG''s computer system that is at fault. If you search my name you will find my and my neigbour's experience of a similar problem,

 

British Gas sues Accenture over billing ‘shambles’ - Times Online Not yet sorted.

 

If you are worried and the meters are all together find the meter with the number that is on the bill you are paying. Is it labelled correctly - it might have no label.

 

Do a burn test on it. (easiest to do this with two people. one to observe the meter and one in the flat)

 

a) light an easily visible gas appliance in your flat. If your only gas appliance is a gas boiler it is more difficult. You will have to run a hot water tap or turn up your heating until the boiler fires and stays on.

 

b) Go to the meter that you think is the correct one and check that gas is being used. If the meter is not running it is not yours.

 

c) If it is running turn the stopcock in the pipe that supplies the meter. The meter will stop. Go back to your flat. If the appliance you left on has gone out the meter is yours.

 

If the meter turns out not to be yours locate the meter for what you think is the erroneous bill and do the same test on that. If that is also not yours then BG are in trouble! Both the meters they are billing you for are not yours. Report your findings here.

 

If you have a dial meter one of the dials will be running quite quickly if gas is being used through it. If you have a dial meter observe the last red digit for movement.

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Ok, I'm a little closer to solving this now. Thanks to your recommendation pelham9, I took a look at the meters that supply the block of flats. They're all in the same place outside so I started comparing gas meter numbers with the one on the bills I'm receiving.

 

Turns out the number is the meter for the adjacent flat! The flat is 1A, and I'm flat 1, so I think what's happened is the British Gas billing system screwed up and the 'A' got removed from the address.

 

I'm going to call British Gas tomorrow and see if they'll listen to me with this new evidence.

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Well, I eventually got through to someone sensible at BG and they told me they'd investigate the situation, in the mean time the correspondance would be halted. So almost a resolution... not quite, but it's a good step forward. I wonder how long it will go on before it's finally laid to rest!

 

Thanks everyone for your help :)

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Hope all now goes well but do not count on it.

 

On a number of occasions both my friend and I comtacted what appeared to be someone sensible who promised to investigaate only for nothing to happen except letters and threats and on two occasxions my friend was summoned.

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Is your apartment a newbuild - the systems in place between the suppliers (BG) and the distibutors (Transcco / National Grid) seem to function pretty poorly with newbuilds and there are often errors particularly address errors. If they would get off there backsides and do site visits these errors would be eliminated almost entirely.

 

You have not yet received a bill in your name? Do not forget that BG cannot charge prior to one year of the first bill that YOU have received.

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Turns out the number is the meter for the adjacent flat! The flat is 1A, and I'm flat 1

 

BG seem to be in the habit of leaving a letter off an address. It's exactly the same problem I had (maybe still have). Started out to 'the occupier' and then my name was added when I contacted them to sort it out. I think I've solved the problem and then it rears its ugly head again every few months.

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There are a few issues here that should be addressed.

 

They can get a warrant for The Occupier - or could until a short while ago - it is the address that the warrant applies to and not the person - even if the warrant was in someone elses name it would be enforceable

 

It really is not your problem if they cut the supply off, as it is not your supply, and as the meters are in an external box/store they would not attend your apartment unless they rang to ask if you wanted to pay someone elses supply.

 

The wish for compensation is also interesting as compensation should compensate you for loss - what loss? Frankly as soon as you saw that the meter number was not yours you should have ignored it and maybe had a quiet snigger at their incompetence after all you now have a nice little story that you will be able to tell over your next dinner party table

 

GK

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The wish for compensation is also interesting as compensation should compensate you for loss - what loss?

 

Compensation for loss in time an money for communicating with BG. Compensation for distress.

 

They can get a warrant for The Occupier

 

They would be very foolish to swear in court that they did not know who the occupier was !! - particularly as camelcat has been receiving and paying bills.

 

If BG would get of their backsides and actually visit the premises they would be no need to use 'occupier'.

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Sorry Pelham, Just one comment, BG CAN obtain a Warrant just using "The Occupier" and the address. Even if they have a name for the tenant of the property they will also include "The Occupier" on the Warrant, just in case the previous tenant has moved out.

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Noggsy

 

Your last post does not make sense and it is probably this kind of thinking that causes utilities to get things wrong so often.

 

What would be the point of cutting off gas to a property if the occupier you are chasing has left the premises? You would be obtaining a warrant and probably cutting off a new customer who would not be amused. It is not the propety that is in debt.

 

As far as I can see there is absolutely no reason to use the term occupier in an application when they have the name of the occupier. If they do not know the name of the occupier I do not think that a magistrate would grant a warrant for disconnection for personal debt. He/she would tell the warrant officer to do some investigating and to come back with a very good reason why they cannot find out who the occupier is - hardly a likely event.

 

A gas utility may need entry to disconnect for other reasons than chasing a debt eg to disconnect in case of a leak and then a warrant can be made against premises and who the occupier is, is immaterial.

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Utility debts are not handled the same way as other debts; warrants are frequently granted to access gas and electricity meters at addresses where the occupier is ‘unknown’ - but none the less someone is living there, consuming fuel and not paying for it.

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Pelham,

 

I can assure you that the utilities companies regularly apply for and obtain warrants for "The Occupier". The warrant is for the address of the property and not the person.

 

I have, in the past, been forced to cut off legitimate customers who, for whatever reason, have failed to prove they are new occupiers. As I have said in previous posts the utility companies fail to have any commercial sense and will cut of anyone. It seems that the person at the end of the telephone who actually authorises the disconnection can be very gung ho! Some companies were particularly nasty. I recall being forced to wait for 2 hours while the new occupiers solicitor sent a copy of the purchase documents to the gas company - and this was not a tuppenny-halfpenny solicitors.

 

The magistrates frequently do not know who is resident at the property as they may be asked to sign a hundred warrants at a time depending on the court. I know one West Yorkshire court which limited the applications to 200 per person per day!

 

In the case of a leak they do not require a warrant and can force entry on safety grounds. Would you really want them to be hunting for a magistrate in the middle of the night if one of your neighbours had gone on holiday and there was a distinct smell of gas?

 

GK

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