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JohnnyBall

Eon and business electricity disconnection

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Hello all,

 

Currently in a bit of a bind with Eon, who've obtained a warrant to disconnect the electricity from my business premises. They're supposed to be coming on Tuesday, so I'm trying to deal with this pretty urgently! The situation is that we share a large old converted factory with four other small businesses. Each company is self contained, but there's only one electricity meter & supply. We asked to get these divided, but the suppliers wanted to charge something like £4k each. Consequently, we decided between us that my company would collect the money from the other tenants, in addition to looking after a few other maintenance tasks about the building. More fool me, with hindsight, you might well say, but it seemed a good idea at the time.

 

Anyway, some arrears had built up over the course of the year, as other people got behind with their bills, but it was all manageable, and I'd reached an agreement for regular payments and Eon were perfectly happy.

 

I've just come back off holiday to discover bailiffs have been round to disconnect us! On investigation, another of the tenants had been sending their share of the payments direct to Eon, and two of their cheques had bounced. This flagged us as not keeping to our payment plan, and as a bad credit risk. Eon are now refusing to take anything less than the full payment, and are coming back on Tuesday to cut the whole site off.

 

I've negotiated and pleaded, but they're pretty implacable, even if this means they're not going to receive a penny, even in this climate. I wouldn't be unduly worried about winding up my own company, and leaving them to chase that. The miscreants are going to be disconnected from the communal supply and can sort their own problems out - they're actually in breach of their lease, so could get kicked out altogether. My concern is for the other, honest businesses getting cut off. There's not a problem with paying the bills either - it's just not going to happen in one lump sum.

 

So my question to the board is how we can reasonably keep the supply on, until we can get on an even keel. The first possibility I can think of is to start afresh with a new supplier, and another one of the companies as the name on the bill, effectively as new tenants. This apparently could take weeks, though, particularly if Eon don't want to play ball.

 

Does anyone have any ideas how I can buy some time between now and Tuesday? We've had conversations between us, and Eon are adamant that they won't accept the amount of cash that we can get together in that time - they wouldn't even take a cheque!

 

A couple of issues worth mentioning, although I don't know if they have any bearing on the warrant:

 

-For the last year or so, we've had suspicions about the accuracy of the meter. We've asked repeatedly for an engineer to come and verify that we're being billed correctly, but nothing's been done. The usual response is that we should get a third party electrical contractor in to do it, but of course that's a complete nonsense - how can a third party check the accuracy of Eon's meter?

 

-The meter itself is not in my premises - it's in a different part of the factory tenanted by someone else. This is where they need access to disconnect.

 

-As far as I can see from the legislation (Right of Entry (Gas & Electricity) Act 1954), in order to obtain a warrant, they need to previously have requested access for the same purpose with no less than 24 hours notice. They certainly didn't do this, so it appears that the warrant was issued on the basis of false information. Any lawyers on the board - am I reading this right?

 

- There's also a massive data protection issue. Another one of the tenants rang up and was freely given a complete rundown of all account transactions without my authorisation. Clear breach of DP, although I haven't done anything with it yet, like refer to Information Commission.

 

Any ideas? Cheers!

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AS I see it the only chance you have is if the warrant is for the wrong address. It must be for the property where the meter is located and not where the energy is supplied.

 

Prior to obtaining the warrant the company should have sent someone on a pre disconnection visit to attempt to resolve the dispute and read the meter.

 

Following that there is a requirement, under the Human Rights Act, for them to give you notice that they are going to court to obtain the warrant of entry - this usually requires seven days notice and these letters should be addressed to the occupier of the property where the meter is located.

 

I hope that there might be a nugget of assistance there.

 

Regards

GK

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Thanks a lot, GTP - genius! The power's supplied to one building (the address on the warrant, and also the billing address), but the meter's in the premises next door, at a different address.

 

All I need is the time to sort out a reasonable payment schedule without plunging everyone into darkness - this should do the trick. Cheers!

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I am pleased to help Jonny

I would also apologise for taking so long to get back t o you I know it seems a lifetime when you need help

 

HTH

 

GK

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As a footnote, the warrant WAS wrongly addressed. However, the bailiffs argued very forcefully that this didn't matter as "their legal team had checked the details".

 

All complete rubbish, of course, but fortunately the police officer who came down stood his ground and refused to let them force entry, as the warrant was inaccurate. This was despite threats to report him to his superiors, etc, etc.

 

They were then going to go to the Magistrates' court that morning and get the warrant amended. I argued that as the address was wrong, they couldn't have given notice to the occupier of the premises with the meter in. Again, they argued the toss, but relented eventually. They now have to start the whole warrant process again.

 

Result! This gives a bunch of honest businesses a couple of weeks breathing space to thrash out an affordable deal and keep trading. Thanks again, Gamekeeper!

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Well done Johnny,

 

I know it takes some b^%$^%s to stand up to the bailiff especially when they bring plod along. As you may have guessed, and to prevent flaming, I have always admitted on my profile, I was a bailiff doing that very job.

 

Now when they write under the human rights act advising you of tghe proposed court date you have a few other delaying potentials.

 

1 You could write to the court advising them that you wish to attend but are unable to on the day as you have an appointment or will be on holiday.

 

2 You can turn up at court and say why you do not wish the warrant to be issued and very often the magistrates will give you a month to sort it out or the warrant officer will withdraw your one warrant so they can get the other 100 or so passed through.

 

If you would like to show your appreciation by dinging the scales over there

 

Regards

 

GK

  • Haha 1

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Unfortunately, my faith in the legal system has now had a complete battering. For entirely legitimate reasons (I've been quarantined at home with swine flu FFS!) we wrote and asked the court to delay the warrant hearing for another week. The warrant application was based on false information, and all we needed to do was attend the hearing and put the facts straight. They failed to give correct notice to the occupier of the intention to obtain a warrant, for one.

 

The judge decided to ignore this request completely, and executed the warrant there and then. Apparently the utilities companies will have their (false) evidence automatically rubber-stamped, and we've been denied the right to a hearing. They were presumably upset at having been made idiots of before, so they came in and cut us off right away - so now our companies are sitting in the dark on the back of someone else's debt.

 

Will be taking legal advice on this one - the warrant wasn't sought correctly, a reasonable request to have the hearing rescheduled was ignored, and now we're all sitting in the dark.

 

Ever come across anything like this before, Gamekeeper?

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When did they give you notice of the new hearing?

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They didn't. They sent one notification addressed to a former tenant, incorrectly addressed, so we heard about it second hand. They didn't send anything to any of the companies actually resident in the building.

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Hi JB,

 

How did they gain entry to the property that contains the meters? as they only need to execute the warrant if they are refused entry.

 

I have come across this type of thing before in the way that these power companies seem to be power crazy. In the past I have been forced to disconnect people knowing that it did not make commercial sense!

 

TBH I would wind up the company and let them go ...... although I sympathise for the good companies who now have no power.

 

The only further step might be a complaint to the regulator - I can only apologise for not knowing what that organisation is now called as it is 3 years since I was in the industry and they seem to change titles like most people change their clothes.

 

Regards

 

GK

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I don't know where else to suggest my info in similarly out of date.

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the energy supply ombudsman deal with complaint s regarding the energy industry, failing that, ofgem

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