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dagenhamdave1

Taking British gas to court.

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Hello.

I have a real big problem with British gas and could do with some advice.

About 2 years ago I move house as I was made redundant and found work elsewhere. I called 2 weeks before I moved and then on the day I moved with readings so I could get a final bill. (as per their rules and instructions) I never received one. Instead I started to get threatening letters and calls from collection agencies for an amount which was way over what I was expecting. Over the next few months I sent many e-mails and made many calls to British gas trying to get a correct bill. (It took 3 months for them to even admit they MAY have made a mistake) They admitted that they were charging me for usage after I moved out but still said I owed it. After speaking to the collection agencies and sending them proof I no longer lived there, they returned the debt to British gas and sent me a confirmation letter stating that they would no longer pursue the matter. All British gas did is give it to another agency. Shortly after I moved I tried to get a cheap car on finance so I could take a new job. I needed a car so I could get back quickly after work to pick up my son from nursery. I was denied finance and when I went on-line to find out why I saw that British gas had put a default notice on my credit reference. 2 years after moving out, British gas have finally sent me a bill which they say is correct. (I don't have much trust in their idea of correct.) The same day I received this bill I also had a new letter from a collection agency and several threatening calls. I have no problem in paying the bill, BUT first I want the default notice taken off and I want compensation for the major inconvenience they have caused me. It has been extremely hard to find work close enough to where I live that pays well enough to pay all my bills. If it wasn't for British gas I would have had a car and a job that paid well. Now I have no car and I am struggling to find work that I can get back from in time to pick up my son. As you can imagine, 2 years of people threatening to take you to court also takes its toll, especially if it's not your fault you are in this situation. I have just sent a letter of intent to British gas but I don't hold much hope for them to rectify the situation.

 

Any advice you can give on how to take this further or even letting me know if I actually have a chance at getting what I want would be great. Thanks for reading. :)

 

D. McHale

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YAY ! Score one for the little guy.

I found a post which had the name of a solicitor that was very helpful. It turns out that there are a growing number of people who have won cases against large companies on the basis of harassment. If a company is perusing you in an aggressive manner, (contacting you more than twice a week) it falls under a violation of the "protection against harassment act 1997". In order for you to make a claim you need to make sure these statements apply to you.

 

1. You do not owe all or some of the amount they are asking for.

2. You have contacted the company to try and resolve the matter.

 

I will say, This is my final play. the only reason I am doing this is because I have exhausted all other options. It is a good idea to go through the proper channels first before getting to this point so please be careful as there are always risks of losing.

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Was all this communication with British Gas done on the phone or email? If you can recover any of this communication do so ASAP.

 

You must write a complaint letter (recorded delivery) to BG stating your story, saying they are harrassing you, that they or their agents have libelled you and you have suffered loss by an adverse CRA reference. Invite them to invoke the billing code. If they have not billed you for 1 year (which they have not) then they cannot expect paiyment.

 

Tell them that you will either make a complaint to the Energy Ombudsman or take them to court if they do not sort this to your satisfaction.

 

You told them 2x that you were leaving and gave them readings. This matter is then entirely their error and you should resist payment. They may try to say that you did not give a forwarding address. My answer to that is that if their operatives were properly trained they would have asked you your next address so that they could send you the final bill.

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I have tried to do most of it by e-mail so i can record all correspondance but they continue to call. after they have called i asked them to put it in writing and send it to me so i have all bases covered. as for the credit report, i have a copy and the only blemish on there is their default. due to the fact i have not been working much, bills have pilled up so i would not be suprised to see a few notes for missing payments over the last year but this is all due to the circumstances caused by british gas.

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Get on and write that complaint letter!!

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F.A.O. Phil Bentley Managing Director.

This is a formal notice of intent to take legal action against British Gas for compensation.

For almost 2 years I have tried to resolve an issue with a bill from a previous address, and I have only just managed to get a correct bill. I had every intension of paying what I owed but you have made it an unbearable process. In November 2008 I left my last place of residence after calling British gas on 2 separate occasions with a meter reading. I was told that a final bill would be sent to my new address. No bills ever turned up, and after a while I started to call British gas to see why. The answer I got was... "We have sent another one out, you should receive it in about a week." I still did not receive a bill. This went on for a while and every time I gave you my new address. While I was trying to get my bill, I started receiving threatening letters from debt collection agencies asking for an amount which was much more than I was expecting. I called British gas again to see if I could get my bill and to find out why it was so high and I was told..." I am sorry but your account has been passed on, so you will have to take it up with the collection agency."For about a year I was calling British gas and as many as 4 different collection agencies to find out what was going on. After a long time it was passed to Wescot services and they finally told me that the bill was for usage of gas for a period that exceeded the time I lived there. I sent them a letter including proof of when I moved out and a copy of my new tenancy agreement and they returned the account to British gas. By the time I got the letter saying they had passed it back and called British gas, you had passed it on to yet another debt collector. I have only just received a bill which looks close enough to what I expected. I can't say it is accurate but then again from what I have heard I doubt you can either.

You would think that being hounded for almost 2 years for money that you don't owe would be bad enough... It gets worse.

Shortly after moving here I tried to get a car on finance to enable me to get to and from work in time to drop off and pick up my son from nursery. When I tried to get a small amount of finance for a car, I was turned down. I decided to have a look at my credit report and noticed that British gas had place a default notice on my financial record (the only blemish on there) for not paying a bill. Given the fact that you record and take notes from all calls you would expect that there may be some sort of sign that I was not happy with the fictional bill and that I had tried to resolve the situation. Especially when the people you asked to get it from me gave the debt back.

As a result of the default notice, I was unable to buy a car which in turn stopped me from working as if I was to take public transport, my working hours would be restricted to 10 am - 4 pm. in order for me to get to and from my sons nursery to pick him up. The only work I could have got would have been part time which would not have met my financial needs or employ a child minder which would have cost me more than I was earning. I have now had to resort to moving to a more expensive area so I can be closer to the town centre (where I hope to be working) and also pull my son out of his nursery and move him to a new one.

It has only been in the last few weeks that I have seen any kind of movement on British gas's part and I think it may have something to do with the fact I mentioned legal action. As I mentioned, I now have my bill and I have received a call from your complaints department apologizing and offering to clear the default notice and take £100 off my bill. I have decided not to accept the offer as you would construe the acceptance of this as a resolution to the issue. Too little too late.

I have been in touch with a solicitor, who has told me that you were in breach of the "Protection against harassment Act 1997" .

You have it on your own records that I tried to resolve the issue on many occasions. I have letters from 4 different collection agencies including a letter from Wescot services who state that they reported back to British gas after their investigation, and told you that I did NOT owe that amount and that I proved it. I also have another letter showing that despite the fact the debt was returned you passed it onto yet another collection agency. I never thought it would get this far but I am not just going to take an apology and £100 when British gas have caused me so much financial and emotional strain for almost 2 years.

If you wish to settle this out of court I would be happy to talk but I do not wish to drag this out for much longer. Please do not think I am being rude or threatening, I just want some acknowledgement that I have been unfairly mistreated.

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Hi dagenhamdave1.

 

Hope you dont mind this, but I have tweaked your letter a bit and post an amended version here for you to consider. I have to say though that once I reached the end I was taken by surprise. To be honest - if a court hears that a sizable compensation was offered (presuming you really are happy with the final bill?) then you might fail and /or not be offered costs? The same would also likely apply to Ombuds complaint? You might be better if you responded that you would be happy to reach agreement, providing that they gave a written apology and corrected their Credit Reference error. Unless of course your solicitor can get you Legal Aid? In which case, feel free to ignore my opinion:)

The Tweaked Letter is here, though I have left the ending (my bits are written in red - so hope this shows up for you)...

 

 

(YOUR ADDRESS)

F.A.O. Phil Bentley Managing Director. (ADDRESS)

(DATE)

Dear Mr Bentley,

RE: (ACCOUNT NO (etc)).

This is a formal notice of intent to take legal action against British Gas for compensation.

For almost 2 years now I have tried to resolve a billing issue from my previous address, and I have only just managed to get this correction agreed.

I had every intension of paying any monies owed, but you [company] have made it an unbearable process.

In November 2008 I left my last place of residence. After calling British gas on two separate occasions, with a meter reading, I was told that a Final Bill would be sent to my new address. However, no such bill was ever received.

After allowing a reasonable time I called British gas, on several occasions to query this delay. The answer given was... "We have sent another one [bill] out and you should receive it in about a week." Every time I called I confirmed with your operative that you did have a record of my correct address.

Whilst I was still trying to get my Final bill, I began to receive threatening letters from debt collectionclip_image001.gif agencies, who informed me that they were acting on your behalf and demanded payment for a sum which was far higher than I was expecting.

I called British gas again to query both the amount and why an external agency had written. However, I was told that as the account had been “passed on” I would have to direct my questions to the Collection Agency. This situation continued for about a year, with me calling British gas and as many as 4 different collection agencies to find out what was going on.

After some considerable time my account was passed to Wescot services and they, finally, told me that the bill included gas usage for a period that exceeded the time I lived there!

I sent them the proof of when I moved out along with a copy of my new tenancy agreement and they returned the account to British gas and wrote to inform me. However, by the time I got this letter, you had passed it on to yet another debt collector!

I have only just received a bill which looks closer to what I had expected. I can't say it is accurate but then again, I doubt you can either? You would think that being hounded for almost 2 years for money that you don't owe would be bad enough... But it does get worse...

 

Shortly after moving house I was refused finance for a car. As I knew my Credit history to be good, I obtained my credit reportclip_image001.gif and noticed that British gas had noted an incorrect default notice on my financial record (the only blemish on there) for alleged non payment of a bill – despite knowing that this was still under dispute.

 

As a result of the default notice, I was unable to buy a car which, in turn, has had negative implications on my income and earning potential, so much so that I have now had to re-locate again to a more expensive area so I can be closer to the town centre (where I hope to be working).

It has only been in the last few weeks that I have seen any kind of movement on British gas's part and I firmly believe this is because I stated my intention of seeking legal action.

 

As I mentioned, I now have my bill and I have received a call from your complaints department apologizing and offering to clear the default notice and take £100 off my bill. I have decided not to accept the offer as you would construe the acceptance of this as a resolution to the issue. Too little too late.

 

I have been in touch with a solicitor, who has told me that you were in breach of the "Protection against harassment Act 1997" . You have it on your own records that I tried to resolve the issue on many occasions. I have letters from 4 different collection agencies including a letter from Wescot services who state that they reported back to British Gas after their investigation, and told you that I did NOT owe that amount and that I proved it. I also have another letter showing that despite the fact the debt was returned you passed it onto yet another collection agency. I never thought it would get this far but I am not just going to take an apology and £100 when British gas have caused me so much financial and emotional strain for almost 2 years.

 

 

If you wish to settle this out of court I would be happy to talk but I do not wish to drag this out for much longer. Please do not think I am being rude or threatening, I just want some acknowledgement that I have been unfairly mistreated.

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Sorry - not all of the paragraphs stayed separate and my edit hasnt worked... Hope still makes sense?:)

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PPS: Also, if you are in receipt of qualifying benefits are thinking of small claims court then a letter from DWP / Job Centre Plus might just cover costs? Sorry for all additions - too busy watching Big Brother to concentrate...:lol:

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Thanks so much for taking the time to tweak the letter. The reason why I won't take their offer is because I honestly do not think it is worth all the hassle they have caused me. By now I should be working a nicely paid job with a car. I would have paid off the loan for the car and I would still be able to live in this house rather than moving AGAIN. I want to get some real compensation and then I want to plaster the outcome all over the internet so may be British gas will stop treating people so badly. I know I could lose but even if I do, at least I didn't just lay there and take it.

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