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ecb

British Gas, do I have to pay this bill?

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My partner left us (me and 3 kids) in February.

The utilities were in his name. After he left, I switched supplier. He eventually paid the bill, but up to the date he left.

 

Now letters are coming to the house addressed to 'the occupier' chasing a further £220 from the date he left to the date that the supplier changed. Today a letter arrived from a recovery company.

 

Do i have to pay this as it is addressed to the occupier and not me personally as I didnt request that they supply me with gas? My ex-partner set up the account with British Gas.

 

Im not working at the moment and dont get any benefits either.

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The simple answer is yes, you utilised the service, therefore you are liable.

 

Why do you not get any benefits?

Edited by zazen.warrior

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When your husband left you became the sole occupier of your home. It is the occupier (or occupiers) who have responsibility to pay for fuel usage. There does not have to be a written contract. If you use fuel you are 'deemed' to have a contract. Your husband has paid up to the time he left and it is up to you now - you should explore the possibility of getting maintenance from him. In fact as you were both occupiers before he left you had joint responsibility to pay the utility bills.

 

The previous supplier is entitled to bill you for any unpaid fuel consumption - from the time your husband left to the change of supplier.

 

Unfortunately the utilities expect you to tell them that you are now the occupier and letters to the 'occupier' are to encourage you to do this.

 

So you should contact them in writing to explain the situation. You should also check that the bill they have sent is correct particulary checking that any estimated meter readings are reasonable and that the end and start readings used by the two suppliers are the same.

 

Do not communicate with any DCA except to tell them in writing that the account is in dispute. After that ignore them and refuse to talk to them on the phone. If they ring either put the phone down or refuse their security questions eg D of B, postcode. DCAs use threats and intimidation to frighten you into paying and you take the wind out of their sails if you ignore them.

 

If you are in financial difficulty you will probaby be able to work out a repayment schedule with the previous supplier - they have no power to disconnect you as they are not now your supplier. Not so your new suppler so do everything in your power to pay them but do check your bills and if high estimetes are used make sure you ring in the correct teading.

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Thanks for that pelham. Ive looked at the link you suggest, but im confused as to which letter, if any would be applicable?

 

Can i go back and try and arrrange a nominal payment with British Gas or will they just ref me to the Debt company, (the letter says that the gas account has now been passed to them by British Gas).

 

Im in major financial difficulty at the moment, dont have enough income to meet my essential outgoings. Im waiting for an appt with CCCS.

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British Gas will have written off the debt and sold it to the DCA.

 

Is the account in dispute?

 

If so why?

 

From what I can deduce from your first post you do owe the money and will therefore have to deal with the DCA or let it eventually go to court.

 

You would get a much more realistic payment arrangement from a court than you would from any DCA.

 

In your situation I think I would do just this.

 

Utility Debts are not covered by the Consumer Credit Act as they do not require a contract.

Edited by zazen.warrior

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British Gas will have written off the debt and sold it to the DCA

 

This is unusual with utilities. Much more likely they will be using a DCA as an agent to collect. Most utilities have in house DCAs -for instance United Utilities use Concilia who are in the office next door to the UU collection dept - thay are UU by a different name.

 

If the debt has actually been sold to a DCA (the legal term is assigned) you should have had a notice of assignation. If you have not had this there is no evidence that the DCA is anything but an agent. If they are agents you will be duplicating your workload if you write to both the utility and their agent so write to the utility only.

 

What do British Gas call their DCA.? Npower call theirs Collections Direct.

 

It is a curious fact that DCAs are pretty good at recovering debt simply because debtors are frightened of them and the unlawful intimidation and harrassment that they indulge in. It is usually best to ignore them particularly if they are simply agents of a creditor who is using them so that the creditor reputation does not suuffer if they were to openly use DCA methods.

 

Note that if you have disputed your account with BG thay are breaking OFT rules if they have asked a DCA to intervene - even an in house DCA.

 

My advice stands - complain to BG and ignore the DCA. Remember that best result for you may well follow court action - do not be intimidated.

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This is unusual with utilities.

 

I agree with this.

 

I work for British Gas, but I am not related to energy however I do hope I can help.

 

Basically BG will have the DCA acting on their behalf; i've never heard of our debt being sold off.

 

I know how difficult it is to be heard by them, but the way I see things dealt with at their quickest is if a customer has the Citizen's Advice Bureau acting on their behalf. Go to them, and see what they can get from BG with regards to your unemployment and having 3 children. To be honest, a payment plan is not uncommon.

 

They would rather get some sort of payment from you than letters of complaint!

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This is a final account with a previous supplier, Eon to my certain knowledge only use their 'in house' collectors ' Utility Debt Services' for three months before the account is written off and then sold on/assigned to an external DCA.

 

This is essentially to make their accounts look better, they are not then seen to be carrying a lot of bad debt.

Edited by zazen.warrior

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ECB.

 

It would be of interest if you could tell us who BG are using to collect the debt and how much the debt is.

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British Gas are using Central Recoveries and it is for £219.13

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It is with Central Recoveries and the amount is for £219.13

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Central Recoveries are BG's in house debt recovery department.

 

So when you contact Central Reoveries you are simply communicating with BG. Get your complaint into BG as soon as possible via their complaints procedure. Communicating with BG AND their DCA will simply produce muddle.

 

BGs computer systems have been in chaos for ages and it is quite common for Central Recoveries to continue collection activities long after the account has been paid. Somehow the DCA department do not communicate adequately with complaints and public relations.- the systems do not appear to be integrated.

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