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can British Gas disconnect me?


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I have a mega bill from them and have gone a repayment plan (a plastic repayment card sent to me in the post, the works). The Indian call centre operative in their debt collection wing threatened me with (a) Experian and (b) having my gas supply cut off.

 

was wondering where the law stood with that?

Mozzone

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if you dont pay then yes they can cut you off

PGH7447

 

 

Getting There Slowly

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Advice is given freely but is in no way meant to be taken as Gospel:-)

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yeah, I was pretty sure they could. I was wondering though if there may be special rules about not disconnecting vulnerable people like if there are kids living at the address etc. I had a vague recollection that the Water utilities can't disconnect and wondered if that was true of gas.

Mozzone

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there is

 

Gas arrears and disconnection

 

If you have gas arrears, you risk being disconnected. However, it is very unusual to be disconnected if you fail to pay your gas bills.

If you have gas arrears, seek help from an experienced adviser, urgently if you have been threatened with disconnection, for example, a Citizens Advice Bureau To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on openinnewwin.gifnearest CAB.

Steps your supplier must follow before disconnecting you

 

A gas supplier must follow standard licence conditions, one of which sets out how it deals with customers who have difficulty paying. A gas supplier cannot issue a disconnection notice until at least 28 days after issuing a bill. You must be given at least seven days notice of disconnection. If you can't pay your bill, contact your supplier straight away. You should be offered an arrangement to pay off the arrears at a rate you can afford. If you can't afford to pay off the arrears in this way, they must offer to install a prepayment meter – see under heading Meters.

 

Some groups of customers may have extra protection from being disconnected. This may apply to you if you:

  • are of pensionable age
  • have long-term ill-health
  • are disabled
  • have severe financial problems.

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There are also rules about threatmonkeys who threaten customers with all manner of dire consequences, so make a complaint about the guy who dealt with you

PGH7447

 

 

Getting There Slowly

---------

 

Advice is given freely but is in no way meant to be taken as Gospel:-)

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there is

 

have severe financial problems.

 

Certainly applies. Any idea what their criteria is?

I have to say though that they always deal with this by 'phone and I get put through to these bl**dy awful foreign call centres that are often impossible to communicate properly with and who use their poor levels of spoken English as a means of bamboozling you.

 

Is it possible to negotiate with British gas by post?

Mozzone

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Well its worth a try but I bet my hat they'll write asking me to 'phone Bangalore 0845.

Mozzone

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The Indian call centre operative in their debt collectionlink3.gif wing threatened me with (a) experianlink3.gif and (b) having my gas supply cut off.

 

If this was done whilst you were negotiating a payment plan this was an unfair practice.

 

If after a plan was negotiated it is nuts and shows that BG have still not got their internal communications sorted.

 

They can off course threaten disconnection if you are not paying but a warrant of entry for disconnection etc must be heard by a magistrate, If you turn up in court to defend the application wil be withdrawn. They are only interested in getting easy warrants by default - which means that no defence case has been offered. The idea that applications will always be granted by the court stems form the fact that very few customers actually turn up to court so default warrants are the routine (dealt with at the rate of 40-60 an hour!!!).

 

Why the mega bill? - if you look into this you may well have grounds to dispute it. e.g. Estimated bills sent for more than 2 years. No bill sent for longer than one year. Poor or no monitoring of a direct debit plan. Have you checked the bill fully and compared it to your own meter reading and meter number

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The background to the mega bill was that it was a 'blank' meter in a rental flat and we set up a new account with British Gas. When we left after 10 months we gave a meter readijg and bingo the mega bill. In the meantime we had been receiving small estimated bills.

 

The threats WERE made while negotaiting a repayment plan and, while unfair practice, were nonetheless made and by a bloke in a Madras call centre who couldn't give a @!"£! and therein lies the problem.

 

You are dead right about the litigant in person thing. DJs hate lay people turning up to defend themselves and the solicitors who send their clerks along to get repos, CCJs, warrants, injunctions etc also hate litigants in person at the district courts.

Mozzone

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so sar BG and demand to know who paid the bill before you, I assume you have start and end dates to your tenancy

PGH7447

 

 

Getting There Slowly

---------

 

Advice is given freely but is in no way meant to be taken as Gospel:-)

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how do you mean it was a blank meter when you moved in? Were any further meter reads obtained? give a few sets of current read and demand if your opening meter read was estimated that it be revised based on your actual energy usage.

 

Are you sure that BG didnt suggest disconnection would be a consequence if the pay arrangement would not be kept to?

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Trouble with that approach Nottslad is that they have vacated the flat!

 

Seems to me that there was a meter reading given to BG at the beginnung of the tenancy because the OP arranged a supply with BG (blank meter??? does he mean 0 most unlikely) so his bill must have based on actual readings by the OP.

 

MOZZ1

 

How big was the 'megabill'? Does it seem reasonable to you? Maybe there are reasons that it is large - for instance an old neter reading in cubic feet but charged in cubic meters.(around 9x larger bill) Are you sure that the first bill was not based on an estimate of your start reading. What does a blank meter mean?

 

BG can only disconnect gas for arrears if you are actually in residence so that guy in India was talking double nonsense.

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It was a VERY old property, with a very old gas meter..........

The meter reading was accurate but the cubic feet theory sits well with what's happened. Our usage of gas I would say is average and the bill was for £790 for an approx 9 month period (or £351 a quarter which seems steep to me). Besides, the buggers never came to read the meter and sent miniscule estimated bills all that time.

Mozzone

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You are dead right about the litigant in person thing. DJs hate lay people turning up to defend themselves and the solicitors who send their clerks along to get repos, CCJs, warrants, injunctions etc also hate litigants in person at the district courts.

 

You have got your courts mixed.

 

Warrants for entry to disconnect are heard in the magistrate courts. These courts set aside a short session (about 20 mins) to deal with applications from one utility. There may be 30 to 50 applications "heard" at these sessions and default warrants are simply rubber stamped by the magistrate. If you turn up to defend this cosy system is not possible so the application is withdrawn and the utility will try something else.

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You have got your courts mixed.

 

If you turn up to defend this cosy system is not possible so the application is withdrawn and the utility will try something else.

 

Even better then ;-)

Thanks for the heads up. Point is that turning up at court can be the right thing to do.

Mozzone

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Depending on the property and occupation these amounts are not excessiive. Certainly they are too low for a mis- conversion of a cubic foot meter. If this had been the case the bills would have been 27x higher than expected - my 9x factor in my previous post was an error.

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Thanks for that. Yes, I have been paying them anyway. But you don't know what grief I have endured negotiating with their threatening debt collectors in India - hence my query about being disconnected (which was made when I rang them first time around to dicuss the bill; they also threatened a credit reference agency before trying to con me into making 4 large payments). In the end I got them to break it down into 13 payments.

Mozzone

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If you turn up to defend this cosy system is not possible so the application is withdrawn and the utility will try something else.

 

Not always correct, as several courts that i visit for warrant applications will postpone the hearing. A time is booked usually 1 to 2 weeks later when more time is given so that both parties can put their side.

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Thats what has also happened in my experience Steve.

 

If you've vacated the flat and your tenancy has ended, why would the be disconnecting you? Are they the supplier at your current address?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Steve

 

Of course you are right that one of the other things a warrant officer can do is to leave the application in but withdraw it fom the rubberstamp session and request a later hearing. That could happen but not often.

 

My experience is that warrant officers are not properly briefed - they know this - and cannot possibly present a case at one of these default sessions should there be by chance time enough to hear a case properly. To be on the safe side they withdraw the application from the session. When they then investigate the case (the defendant is present) with a proper hearing in mind they most often find very good reasons not to proceed.

 

The very high frequency of default warrants (i.e. undefended) has encouraged utilities to think that poorly prepared ( sometimes completely mistaken) cases will do and their customers to think that granting of warrants is automatic. Most of the cases on these forums are complicated and applications will be withdrawn totally if the customer is present to defend - there is little possibility of actually going into court at that time.

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turning up at court can be the right thing to do.

 

Turning up in court is nearly always the right thing to do. Unless you know that the arrears are completely fair, that the repayment schedule is semsible for you, that you are not classified as vulnerable and that the utility is putting a fair case how can you let them get away with a default warrant?

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turning up at court can be the right thing to do.

 

Turning up in court is nearly always the right thing to do. Unless you know that the arrears are completely fair, that the repayment schedule is semsible for you, that you are not classified as vulnerable and that the utility is putting a fair case how can you let them get away with a default warrant?

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Thats what has also happened in my experience Steve.

 

If you've vacated the flat and your tenancy has ended, why would the be disconnecting you? Are they the supplier at your current address?

 

Yep, I took them with me to my new address (then I got the bill).

Mozzone

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Turning up in court is nearly always the right thing to do. Unless you know that the arrears are completely fair, that the repayment schedule is semsible for you, that you are not classified as vulnerable and that the utility is putting a fair case how can you let them get away with a default warrant?

 

Everybody is given notifation of the court date and time, and indeed more should turn up. As a person who applies for warrants i personally hate it when someone turns up. I always try to resolve the matter prior to the court hearing, and will always contact the utility company whilst with the customer. If there is a genuine dispute on the case then it will get postponed, or indeed cancelled. People have to turn up first though.

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Quick question - if you turn up and have a genuine case i.e. they should not be applying for a warrant at all, can you have them pay your costs of turning up (e.g. travel costs, loss of earnings for the time you have taken off work, etc)?

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