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citydweller

£10,000 Electric bill for 8 years

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It's actually more than £10k :(

 

I am ashamed to say I am a freeloader...I live in a shared house, I've been here for over 8 years, other tenants/sharers have come and gone. We have never had any electricity bill. We have no gas so everything runs using the electric; cooker, water heater, heating etc we have lived in ignorant bliss with our 'free' electricty all this time.

 

A few years after we moved in I actually called them and gave them readings over the phone after receiving a meter reading card. No bill came and we've never had any visits or any correspondence since, so we have continued to live with the free electricity. Having mentioned this to a few people over the years, we believed we were 'off the record' or had slipped 'under the radar' whatever you want to call it, so never really talked about it.

 

Recently someone from our apparent provider tried to call and take a reading, none of us were in so they couldnt take one, a neighbour spoke to them and pleaded ignorance about us, they are unaware that we have had no bills. Then the bill arrived a couple of days ago with my name on it and only my name, I have no idea how they got my name I have never given them it ?

 

It estimates 6 years of electricity useage, stemming from the reading several years ago, they are quite a way out with their estimate.

 

I'm not looking for a flaming and I'm quite aware that I/we should have done something about this some time ago, but I'm afraid we didn't. Why would we give up free electricity ?

 

Given that we gave a reading a long time ago and they have never, EVER, sent a bill or asked us to provide a reading since, what are the chances of them only charging for the last year as per the Billing Code with which I have now become familiar ?

 

What should I/we do ?

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I Believe They Must Provide A Bill

If 12 Months Go By

They Are Then Stuffed

 

Its Not My Area So Take With A Pinch Of Salt

I Believe Ive Come Upon Some Threads On The Matter

 

You Will Have Some Caggers Come Along With The Full Sp

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which supplier do you use? I'm sure you've grasped that some of us work for the energy companies, so maybe someone form that supplier would be best off answering your question.

 

I will bring home the billing code flow chart tomorrow and post it on here :-)

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You will need to speak to the supplier. Whether the billing code applies depends on a few factors, but that would mean you need to speak to them first then come back to us with their answers before commiting yourself to anything with them.

 

First off you need to find out the reason for them not billing you. You need to make sure they have an accurate up to date reading. You will also need to check the meter serial number matches the one on your meter.

 

To be totally honest, it is unlikely the billing code will apply as although you gave them a reading at the start, the fact you have not contacted them asking why you are not being billed will go against you. But the fact it is such a high bill they may reduce this as a gesture of good will.

 

Was this property a new build when you moved in? I would ask also how they got your name, but that could go back to when you provided a read initially.

 

Get as much info as you can, post it on here and someone will advise. As Nottlad says, a few of us work for the energy companies so should be able to help.

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Thanks for the help guys. The estimated usage is under by quite a lot.

Edited by citydweller

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and Clare, I think we work for the same one... with the main office in Coventry!?

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I believe we do nottslad!

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Oh dear, they're in trouble, aren't they?

 

Your energy questions - Consumer Focus

 

 

Unless they can prove how much you actually used in the last 12 months and bill you for that, as postggj says, they're stuffed. As for £10k, they have no chance whatsoever.

 

I suggest you take a reading now and start working out how much is actually being used and then when it comes to working something out, you can give them the actual readings and possibly agree to pay that amount worked out over the last 12 mths, but tbh, you are in a strong position so you could go in really cheeky and try to get them to write off the whole thing and start again from scratch, and work out a compromise from there.

 

Let us know what happens, will you?

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Been going through these posts as I am in a similar situation but with gas, meter reader came in, for the first time and took a reading and then bill came in for £1500. Never ever had a meter reading taken since we first moved in had meters changed but didnt know who suppliers were contacted transco who told us it was with BG, called BG and they replied that they werent and said they will come back to us. Needless to say they never got back. Then like Citydweller this happened for years free gas, until out of the blue this month a meter reader person showed up and hence bill now.

 

Found this thread useful and informative and has provided a more clearer understanding now. Sorry to hijack this thread but seemed a bit pointless to start a new one in the same vein.

 

My question is this if they never ever taken a meter reading before and only taken one now, do they have to prove how much i used in the year?

 

Will contact the suppliers soon and utilise the advise given on this thread. Will try to be cheeky and ask for them to start again

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They must at least attempt to read the meter once every 15 months. If no attempt has been made, then they can only back-bill for a year's usage depending on other criteria.

 

Has a card ever been left by a meter reader? if not, ask them fo check what is known as the 'data flow' for attempted reads... what address were they going to if they were trying to read it? If it was a plot address for a new property and builders had not informed them, then billing code will not apply and they can bill you.

 

Is your electric with them? If so suggest that you told them about gas at the same time, not that I'm advocating lying to your spplier

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Clare

 

To be totally honest, it is unlikely the billing code will apply as although you gave them a reading at the start, the fact you have not contacted them asking why you are not being billed will go against you.

 

How do you explain that a utliity can supply electricity to a property for 8 years withouit the utility being aware of it?

 

It is surely impossible to supply gas or electricity without a meter being fitted. The pipes and meters are owned by the distributer who will only allow their meters to be used if a supplier company takes over the supply. The distributer will have a record of the supplier and the supplierr will have a record of the distibutor. Meter numbers and address will be recorded by both.

 

If a supplier has agreed to supply gas or electricity to a property surely it is the suppliers responsibility to take meter readings and to determine whether the the property is occupied. To rely on bulders or customers to do this is incompetent. A supplier who has a property on their books for eight years and who has not taken a meter reading or visited the property to check its occupancy is grossly inefficient. It is this type of inefficiency that the billing code was written to prevent.

 

You might argue that the utility did not know they were suppling the property and that there was 'an error in the databases'. Whose fault is that?- certainly not a customer or a builder.

 

There are bound the be errors in the supplier and disributor data bases. Surely there are regular reconciliations between these databases to pick up these errors - I supect this does not happen.

 

This kind of problem should be very rare but a short perusal of this forum will show you how common it is. I am certain that this state of affairs could be very nearly eliminated if proper systems and investigation departments were in use. So why are these measures not in place? I would suggest to you that utilities do not take on the expense of doing this because it is cheaper to give away free electricity particularly if (as you do) they seek to blame the problem on the customer and get away with it.

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About the Code

 

The Code of Practice for Accurate Bills (the “Billing Code”) was launched in July 2006 along-side the Energy Ombudsman.

Five of the main energy supply companies in the UK have signed up to the Billing Code, namely British Gas, npower, EDF Energy, E.ON Powergen and Scottish Power. The Billing Code provides consumers with additional protection over and above that required by the regulator Ofgem for accurate and informative billing.

The Code includes a requirement for consumers to be protected from debt where the supplier is at fault for not billing energy supply. Where the supplier is at fault, consumers cannot be back-billed beyond 12 months from the date on any subsequent bill.

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pelham9 - I am in a similar situation with my gas. I had the road dug up, new pipes put in, and a new meter fitted, and rang and gave the supplier the key code on the meter....and then 9 years went by without a single bill. Not even a dear occupier letter. Then out the blue I received a bill, backdated to when the meter was fitted. It seems like the account got lost in the system somehow. The Billing Code is quite specific though - if the supplier has not attempted to read the meters (ie been a responsible supplier) then they can not back date bills further than 1 year back. They also have to prove your likely consumption in that 12m period. The Ombudsman will also advise that you can pay the eventual agreed arrears over 12m period.

Prob best to get on to the Ombudsman straight away.

Note that this Code is not for business consumers.

Hope that helps.

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Pelham, I agree, the system is unfair, particularly to those who live in new build properties and have attempted to find out who is supplying their fuel to no avail. I am not by no means making an excuse for the suppliers because I am an employee, but imagine this. A builder gives you a stack of papers, one with meter serial numbers, one with address's and plot numbers, then drops the stack, shoves them all together and hands them over. I see this on a daily basis, people calling in trying to find out who their supplier is, not always having the right info ie not knowing what the plot number is of their property, not knowing what their meter serial number is and then failing to call back as promised really doesnt help. As a supplier, we need the customer to give as much information as they can. IF the supplier can still not be found then unfortunately it takes time to investigate, not 8 years I grant you and it takes someone to keep coming back and harrassing the supplier to investigate for anything to be done. But it works both ways if someone does honestly want to pay their bill, and if the case is that someone does not call back with the relevant information, remember we are not mind readers, it will not get followed up until maybe a change of meter reading agent. the Billing Code of Practice IS there to protect people and does on a daily basis, but will not help those who sit back and do nothing about it until the bill drops through their door.

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Sorry Clare, but that's the equivalent of a bank saying: "if you budgeted better, you wouldn't have charges". It is NOT up to the customer to find out who is supplying him.

 

When the energy supply got sold off piece by piece, people got signed over to other suppliers often without their knowledge, often a few times a year, companies changed their names and what not... the energy industry only have themselves to blame for the chaos that has been reigning for years now, and we are paying them more than enough that they should be doing the scuttwork. If they want paying, let them work for it. I have yet to see any other business where the customer should be busting their backsides to find out who they should be handing fistfuls of money to.

 

The energy got supplied by someone, that someone should keep track of who they're supplying it to. If they can't manage that simple premise, then that's their problem, not the customer's.

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To an extent I agree Bookworm, but that can not apply to a new occupant, unless someone calls and advises the supplier that they are new to the property, how are they to know? they will just continue to supply. As stated before, they are not mind readers.

 

As I stated before, I do work for Eon and come across the Billing Code every day. I was simply advising the op how his situtation stands. Im not saying if it is right or wrong, but at the end of the day, it IS a joint responsibilty and the Billing Code WILL only apply if the customer has made that effort or it will look as though they were "freeloading", the op's words, not mine. But, for such a large bill, I cant imagine ANY supplier will actually require the full amount be paid and the only way the OP can resolve this is by calling/writing to them.

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There was something on the news today - about a woman being sued for claiming a lottery ticket lost in the street when it wasn't her that lost it in the first place. Basically stealing.

That's exactly what the original poster has done really. Stealing electricity from the supplier (together with the other residents of the house). He/she has openly admitted that they have not ever attempted to contact the supplier (or find out who the supplier is) apart from responding to a call-back card SEVERAL YEARS after moving in.

I'm sorry but the code about rebilling back further than a year should not apply in this case.

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I might add, the situation is similar to starting a business and not informing the tax office you have started a business or not informing the council you are liable for apying council tax. Are they allowed ?- no, I didn't think so.

It does not take much to phone a company to tell them you have moved in to an address. Granted, if there are problems when the customer rings in, in establishing who the supplier is and the companies do not deal with this effectively, that is a different matter (and is something that the customer should not be penalised for) but that is absolutely not the case. Besides, the original poster has not said this is a new house anyway.

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There was something on the news today - about a woman being sued for claiming a lottery ticket lost in the street when it wasn't her that lost it in the first place. Basically stealing.

That's exactly what the original poster has done really. Stealing electricity from the supplier (together with the other residents of the house). He/she has openly admitted that they have not ever attempted to contact the supplier (or find out who the supplier is) apart from responding to a call-back card SEVERAL YEARS after moving in.

I'm sorry but the code about rebilling back further than a year should not apply in this case.

Ok, now we've established that you have high moral standards, well done.

 

However, "should" and your opinion make no difference to the legal standing. Even without the billing code, he who accuses must prove. The energy company can not prove how much power has been used over the last few years and therefore can not demand random numbers. Simple as that. If you want a moral stanpoint, if you think OP was stealing, then the energy company is demanding with menace, which is just as bad. ;-)

 

Clare, I know what you are saying, but it is missing the main point: Regardless of WHO is in the property, the product is being supplied at that address. The fact that they are trying to recover ridiculous amounts shows that they ARE aware of this house, they DO know that the product is being supplied and there is therefore little excuse for them not making contact or sending bills, estimated or otherwise to "the occupier" if need be.

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Er, Bookworm, the fact that a bill has been produced with a meter reading at the beginning and a meter reading at the end proves that electricity has been used - even if they are only estimates, it is the responsibility of the customer or resident to provide correct meter readings. Until that happens, the bill stands!

And the company is sending out a bill for electricity, that is not demanding with menace!!!! What are they supposed to do - stand idly by and continue not to bill the customer.

 

Oh, and Bookworm I don;t have particularly high moral standards. I just know the difference between right and wrong. Something which some people don;t seem to have an inkling about!

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You couldn't be more wrong.

 

Even without the billing code, there is a rather well known piece of legislation called the Limitations Act 1980. With no acknoledgment of the debt or contact for over 6 yrs, the debt would be statute-barred anyway.

 

And because of the billing code, that doesn't even need to come into play. There is no bill, there are no readings, and it is not up to the customer to provide the readings at all, where on earth did you get that idea? All the customer has to do is either send back the reading when asked to or open the door to the meter reader whn he comes, and that is it.

 

If you know the difference between right and wrong, then why do you feel that it is ok for the company to demand £10000 they can't substantiate? :-?

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Im not going to reiterate all te advise allready given in this thread but the facts are this bill and charge is not justified and should not be paid, forgetting morals etc the limitations act does come into play on this and also the billing code (pending supplier) has been breeched and it is up to the supplier to provide a true and accurate bill and make every attempt to get a actual read within a 15 month period and an accurate bill within a 12 month period. only backbill they can give is 12 months based on average consumption over a 7 day reading. If it goes to court you have allready won but it will never get that far.


I am a consumer helping other consumers. Together we can and will make a differance. Please double check any information or advise I may give as I like yourself am learning as I go along in life.

1) give a small donation to this site to keep it going because without this forum I would know nothing.

2) Use your experience to help somone else on another thread.

 

Please do not PM me, my mail address is my username at this site address . I will not under any circumstances give out advise or help through mail, only on the open forum, however feel free to mail me to point me towards your thread and general talk etc.

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But if the customer refuses to provide a reading or to provide access to read the meter, then all the company can do is use an estimate. Or should they apply to the court for a warrant to get a reading/ disconnect the customer? Granted, I am not saying that has definitely happened in this case but it is entirely possible for this to happen.

It just seems blatantly unfair that someone does not pay a bean for eight years because no-one knows anyone is living at an address and then only has to pay for a years usage when they finally get a bill. Surely the piece of legislation serves to exist people that have been messed around by their electric supplier (which we all know happens far too often), not to protect freeloaders and abusers of the system?

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A builder gives you a stack of papers, one with meter serial numbers, one with address's and plot numbers, then drops the stack, shoves them all together and hands them over.

 

There is the problem. You are relying on builders. If you do this you are bound to get into trouble. Does anybody ever get up from their computer screens to sort out problems? It might be worth visiting a newbulid site to check that the builders paperwork is correct and that it has been entered accurately on your databases.

 

If you are supplying a property it is up to you to check that the address meter number and occupant are known and correct. To rely on builders and customers is asking for trouble. Customers have to find out who their supplier is by asking the distributor. Do you ever ask the distibutor what properties you are supplying to check that none (as in this case) have been missed? Do you routinely do onsite invetigations where there are problems?

 

In this case the OP did ring giving his name address and meter reading. Presumably the address was not on the database and there was no account. Instead of this ringing alarm bells the operative just 'forgot' about it or worse still the operative had no way of raising a query. Would you really have us believe that you consider it is the customer's responsibility to chase you. His phone call has shown you there is something to investigate. If you do not do the checks and do not follow up an obvious problem then that is your fault and I have no sympathy with the idea that somehow the customer is to blame.

 

In my apartment block addresses meter numbers were given incorrectly by the builders. I chased the utility with numerous phone calls and letters and this caused a further and enormous muddle - I had at one time six accounts and numbers but all for gas supplied to the flat above mine. I requested an onsite investigation an a number of occasions - the whole situation could have been sorted in two hours - (I had already done this) but nobody ever came. It took 2.5 years for the utility to sort this and it cost them a great deal via the billing code and so it should. They had not even heard of the Royal Mail address database !!

 

Utilities must get there house in order and stop blaming builders and customers for their inadequate systems. That is why there is a billing code and customers must use it fully. Otherwise there is no incentive for utilities to get it right.

 

You are fortunate in working for Eon. Take it from me that they have one of the best systems and customer services in the game. You know the inefficiencies of Eon so think about how bad the rest are.

  • Haha 1

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couldnt agree more Pelham. exelent post.


I am a consumer helping other consumers. Together we can and will make a differance. Please double check any information or advise I may give as I like yourself am learning as I go along in life.

1) give a small donation to this site to keep it going because without this forum I would know nothing.

2) Use your experience to help somone else on another thread.

 

Please do not PM me, my mail address is my username at this site address . I will not under any circumstances give out advise or help through mail, only on the open forum, however feel free to mail me to point me towards your thread and general talk etc.

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