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marvinm1

I have never recieved a gas bill.

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Hi, i need some advise on how to start paying for gas. I moved into a recently renovated house 4 years ago as a student,sharing with 4 others, and we never recieved a bill. Stupidly we just brushed it under the carpet and never contacted a supplier. However, last year my partner and I bought the house. We didn't want to be stuck with paying a four year gas bill that wasn't all ours so we stuck our heads in the sand. We really want to sort it out now and start paying but dont want to have to pay 4 years gas. Any advise much appreciated.

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The meters and supply pipes are owned by distribution companies. The vast majority are owned by National Grid (Transco) but there are a number of small companies that have a slice of the action. Theoretically when the meter is first fitted the gas should not be turned on until a supplier company such as British Gas has contracted with National Grid to be a supplier using that particular meter so if the job has been done correctly there will be a supplier for your meter. Change of suppliers is done via National Grid so National Grid should know whom the supplier is so they are your first port of call.

 

However this system sometimes goes awry so it is not unusual to find that there is no supplier!!. Your property may not even be on National Grid's database or it may be incorrectly addressed.

 

So to find out your supplier WRITE to National Grid - write because this situation has the potential to get nasty and you may need written evidence to show the steps you have taken to ameliorate it. If National Grid cannot help you then you have done all you can - free gas for life! or at least until National Grid sorts this out.

 

If you do find out who your supplier is via National Grid there are two choices - contact your supplier or not. The supplier has a contract with National Grid for your property so it is perfectly reasonable to expect them do their job properly but frequently this does not happen. You may feel there is a moral obligation to pay for your gas but the legal position is far from clear and as far as I know this has not been tested in the courts. The decision is yours.

 

If you do contact your supplier you may be in for a surprise. When this happened to me (British Gas) I was firmly told that they could not be supplying me because my property did not exist!. Its a long story but it took 9 months during which I had to make all the running to get this sorted. Looking back my big mistake was to contact them and personally I would not do it again see below.

 

It is industry practice that where they are not doing their job properly they will not charge for gas except for the one year before the first correct bill they render. In your case you have already had 3 years free gas so there is no incentive for you to chase them. If you do decide to chase them watch them very carefully.

 

They will first send you a bill for the whole 4 years using an estimate for the start reading as low as they think they can get away with - this bill will contain VAT at 5%. You will then protest that you do not have to pay for the first 3 years. They will then send you a bill for fours years in which the gas cost in the first three years is allowed as a rebate but they fail to rebate the VAT. In addition they will use an estimated reading for the start of the final year once again as low as they think they can get away with so that they will be asking you to pay for a very high usage in the final year - I have seen situations where the usage in the final year was said to be twice as high as the yearly usage in the preceding 3 years.

 

You will have to argue with them and they will pressure you with threats of court action. This has happened to a friend and they finally desisted and sent a correct bill when it became clear that she would not be intimidated.

 

In her situation she would have paid for less gas and had far less trouble, harassment and anxiety if she had taken an amoral stand and not chased them in the first place. These companies are not moral entities so think on.

 

It is absolutely essential that you keep a record of any meter readings that you have already taken and that from now onwards you record your meter readings at least monthly.

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