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Gas Meter Serial Number Does Not Match Account


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Hi guys,

 

Has anyone ever experianced a problem regarding the serial number on your gas meter not matching your account ?

 

I have just found out that after 5 YEARS !! we have had the meter belonging to the house two doors down !

 

It was only after us getting behind with some of the payments that a British gas engineer came to look at the meter and told my husband that the serial number didnt match my account and in his words 'it didnt come from me but' if we dont pay it theres nothing they can do as they dont own the meter plus its not actually ours.

 

So i phoned British gas who confirm yes we have the wrong meter and it belongs to the house next door but one, he asked how long weve lived there and i say since it was built 5yrs ago to which he replys 'oh dear that could cause some big problems, ill have to freeze the account and pass it on to someone that can deal with it'.

 

So what im really asking you guys is if anyone knows if i have any rights to withold payments or refuse to pay what we already owe according to the bills theve sent us which are actually our neighbours !...even the British gas guy said theres nothing they can do if i dont pay as theve left this unnoticed for so long ???

 

thank you in advance for any help :)

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I think the meter man is wrong. The fact that your supplier has the wrong meter serial, does not mean you are not required to pay for the gas you use. It could be, that you actually use less gas than you have been billed for, in which case, you should get a refund once it's sorted out. If you use more than you've been billed for, the late billing policy should come into play for any extra use prior to 12 months ago.

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I guess he means that they cant disconnect the meter if we dont pay as they dont own it...its an independent meter and i found that out when i tried to have a pre payment meter fitted and they told me they couldnt change it because of this...although they didnt bother to tell me untill we'd actually switched suppliers to them after one of their operatives said it wouuld be fine but thats another story.

 

So ill have to look into this late billing as ive not heard of it before !

 

Thanks :)

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Suppliers don't usually own the meter anyway. They own the supply. If your property has an IGT (independent gas transporter) supply, this only affects the actual pipes supplying the gas & the cost of the gas, as IGTs usually charge more than National grid to deliver the gas & this is usually passed on by the supplier. There would still need to be a meter operator & they should be able to disconnect the supply or fit a prepayment meter, in the same way as a national grid supplied property. (although my gas knowledge isn't as good as my electric!).

The billing code basically limits a suppliers ability to charge you for errors for which you were not responsible, prior to 1 year ago. In your case, since you were receiving & paying bills, even though on the wrong meter, your supplier could not charge you for any extra use that you had not already been billed for.

e.g. if you had been billed for £1000 gas in the 4 years pror to March 2009 & it turned out you had actually used £1500, the supplier would be required to write off the extra £500. If you had used £800, the extra £200 would be refunded. For the last year, you would be billed for the full amount.

Hope that helps.

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Dave PPMs aren't possible with IGT sites at the mkoment, it is being trialled but not widely available.

 

Off the top of my head I think that billing code only applies in the situation of a crossed-meter when the supplier is made aware of the incorrect meter details, but I may be wrong.

 

You should contact BG to advise them of the incorrect details so these can be amended, whilst they know that the debt is not valid (ie been billed to the wrong MSN) they cannot disconnect your supply, maybe use this time to catch up with paymnets you have missed, and at the end of the day if you do pay too much, you will be refunded, which surely is going to be better than having a debt by the end of it

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The problem will probably be on tne distibutors database. They could have the meter numbers transposed. It maybe that that when the meters were fitted the distributor's agent mixed the meters up or it nay be that whoever put the details into the distributors database did the same Alternatively if both houses have BG as supplier it could be their fault entering transposed meter numbers on their datasbase.

 

Whoever is to blame it is not you or your neigbour's .As far as I know neither the distibutors nor the suppliers do any kind of onsite check in newbuilds. As this is the only way to avoid this kind of problem one or the other is to blame.

 

I am certain that the billing code applies here. Neither of you have been billed for your usage and nobody can blame you so neither of you should be expected to pay for gas prior to one year before the first correct bill - the suppliers are losing money money every monute they delay in sorting this and sending you a correct bill.

 

Both you and your neighbour should put in a written complaint (recorded delivery). Then any attempt at debt recovery by them or an outside DCA can easily be dealt with. When an account is in dispute it is considered unfair by OFT for the claimant to undertake any debt collection procedures. Until the dispute is settled nobody knows what is owing so it is not possible to take you to a civil court for debt or obtain a warrant of entry for disconnection at a magistrates court. Unfortunatlely the suppliers tend to ignore this and use threats of court action to intimidate you into doing their bidding - which will probaly involve denying the billing code. If this should happen post again and we can help.

 

Apart from the complaint you do not need to contact BG again - you have already phoned them and their engineer has already confirmed the transposition of meters.

 

You and your neighbour should stop paying the supplier anything - you have not yet had a bill for your usage!!

 

Some people will question the morality of some of the above but consider this. The distributors and suppliers have not done onsite checks because these checks are expensive to do. They take the risk that the cost of applying the billing code in these unusual cases is less than the cost of doing proper checks on all newbuilds. On this occasion they have lost the bet.

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Hi Nottslad. Theanks for that, I did check today & got the same message. No prepay meters, but disconnection possible.

I have to say Pelham I disagree with you. Crossed meters is not a valid reason to not pay. You have a contract with the supplier & they are supplying the gas. Any billing errors will be corrected & the billing code should ensure that the customer is no worse off than they would have been had there not been a mistake.

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Daveshug.

 

They are of course supplying the gas - nobody is denying that. The question is whether they have sent bills to this OP for the gas they have supplied to him. If they have not done so the billing code applies.

 

Clearly they are billing for gas supplied to the neighbour and vice versa.

 

The newbuild problem is rife and could very easily be sorted by viisits to the property soon after the builder has confirmed occupancy. The builder must have a contract with the supplier and they should continue billing him until the builder confirms the new occupancy. Alternatively they could institute a routine check by phone if the builder is obstinate. This must be accompanied by competence in changing their database as necessary. It would be helpful if instead of sitting in offices staff were sent onsite to check that the builder has connected correctly. Onsit visits by e,g, NPower to drum up custom are frequent. I would have thought that personal supervisory visits to a builder would ensure who would supply a development in toto.

 

This would allow the supplier to check

 

a) the meter reading

 

b) that the meter number is indeed correct for the property.

 

c) who the occupier is.

 

d) that they have the correct address.

 

It would help also with newbuilds if they did routine audits with the distributor that the two databases coincide particularly with regard to address and meter number and with the Royal Mail for address.. The utilities lament that they cannot tell when an address changes as is the case at some time with nearly all newbuilds. The Royal mail data base lists the correct postal address of all properties and will (at a cost) send interested organisation changes to addresses. When British Gas told me they did not supply me and that my address was not on their database I asked them to check with Royal Mail but they would not. I checked and confirmed the address was correct. Occupiers can often be found by a diligent search of the Electoral Roll , telephone databases and . other databases, Identity theives do this routinely - why not utilities.

 

To do the job properly will cost them.The utilities are commercial organisations and costs are not tolerated if they can be avoided without penalty. It is up to the customers to force them to do the job properly by making them apply the billing code in every possible case.

 

The deemed contract system is there because it costs them less than the system that it replaced. For some customers it is a moderate boon because there is no question of waiting to be switched on. To others it causes endless problems. The utilities do not do nearly enough to publicise this system and how customers could help to make it work smoothly. I consider myself well informed and reasonably intelligent but 3 years ago when I moved after 30 years in my previous property I had no idea that the utilities were expecting me to contact them. I did so because I did not want an estimated start reading - then ran into british Gas! My son moving into a newbuild at the same time could not even find out who was supplying him for electricity because NG did not know. For gas NG did not even have his address and meter number on their database! He wants to pay but whom. Is he expected to be an amateur detective?

Edited by pelham9
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Sorry Pelham. I took it from the first post that they had been paying for gas, & were getting bills, but had got behind. Of course if you're not getting bills at all, the situation is different.

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i think the billing code should apply regadless as if the supplier has failed to send you a correct bill then it applies so if the meter details are wrong then the bill cannot be correct, if you are paying them on the wrong meter then they may argue that the meter serial number is on the bill and you should have advised them (not my opinion). but the billing code should still apply.

there are certain suppliers that carry out the checks that you refer to. these should be carried out by every supplier to rectify problems before they get too bad. spending money now would save them money in the long run

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