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British gas - arrears and red letters

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In July we moved house and decided not to use British gas anymore as we've never been happy with them.


I phoned them to give them a final reading and whilst on the phone I arrange with the advisor to pay £10 a month for gas and £10 a month for electricity to pay our arrears (arrears of about £500). We've been getting red letters every week since even though I've been paying on time every month by standing order.


I sent an email to Andy Eley:



Dear Mr Eley,


I wish to log a complaint regarding payment.


In July 2010 I telephoned British Gas and explained that we would be moving home and no longer needing gas or electricity services. I explained that we are on income support and that I would continue to make payments of £10 a month by standing order. The person I spoke to on the phone assured me this would be fine but you have continued to send me final demands, threatening to take me to court. This has had a very negative effect on my deteriorating health and would like the matter sorted out.


We enclose a Personal Budget sheet which shows our total income from all sources, and the total outgoings of our household. As you can see we have no money left to make offers of payment to my creditors.


In view of our circumstances, would you please continue accept a payment of £10 a month at present to be reviewed in six months. If interest or other charges are being added to the account, we would be grateful if you would freeze these so our debt does not increase.


Should my circumstances improve we will contact you again.


Thank you for your assistance. We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.


Yours sincerely



Anyway today I got a reply:


Dear Mrs




Thank you for your email received 11 September 2010. I’ve tried to call you today to discuss this matter further and I’m sorry I’ve been unable to reach you.




I’m sorry to learn of the problems you’ve experienced regarding your gas and electricity accounts. Whilst I appreciate your willingness to pay the gas and electricity final balances, I’d like to discuss your proposed monthly payment amount in more detail with you. Please call me on 0800 107 0184 to discuss this matter further. I’m available Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 8am to 6pm. Outside of my working hours, one of my colleagues would be happy to assist you during our opening hours Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 6pm.




I understand that when you called to confirm you’d moved property, you advised that you’d continue to make payments monthly of £10.00 per month. Whilst we’ve received your payments, there’s currently no formal agreement on your accounts regarding the balance. I’m sorry if you believed this was the case. As there’s no Final Payment Scheme on either of your accounts, reminder notices have commenced due to the current outstanding balances of £XXX and £XXX.




Final Payment Schemes are usually agreed over a period of 3 months. However, in exceptional circumstances we will agree to spread the balances over a longer period of time. I really appreciate that you’ve enclosed an income and expenditure form and also acknowledge your willingness to pay. I’m however concerned at the amount of time it will take you to pay off the balances at £10.00 per month. Based upon a payment amount of £10.00 per month, it’ll take you almost 5 years to clear the outstanding balance on your electricity account and 3 years to clear the outstanding balance on your gas account.




Additionally, I’m unsure of the size of your current property but I’m concerned that the amount you’ve calculated for your electric and energy usage at your new property are very low and could result in a new balance accumulating at your new property. I’m unsure if we supply your new property, but wanted to make you aware of this before any balance may or may not accrue on any new accounts you have.




I can see from the income and expenditure form you’ve enclosed that you’re currently making credit card repayments of £120.00 per month. As with any credit card agreement or mortgage, gas and electricity is treated as a credit agreement and as such can also have a negative impact upon your credit rating. Whilst this matter is under discussion, I’ve of course applied a hold on your gas and electricity accounts to enable us to discuss this further. Is there however any way in which you can reduce the amount you’re paying per month towards credit card repayments in keeping with the minimum required payment or slightly above? This would enable us to agree a more acceptable payment amount towards your gas and electricity accounts so these in addition to your credit card repayment are spread over a more reasonable amount of time.




Please contact me as soon as possible to discuss this matter further. I’ll try to help you as much as possible and look forward to hearing from you.




Kind Regards








Lucy Sands


Customer Relations


So.... what right has she got to question my credit payment (It's actually not a credit card, it's 12 creditors and they get £10 a month each).. or even my ability to pay it? If they take me to court the judge will most likely say they get less than I'm offering..

If I have been helpful in any way, please tip my scales :lol:

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I will add, I did appreciate the prompt response and she does seem willing to help......

Can anybody tell me if there's anything else I can do? We cannot afford anymore. We downsized due to financial difficulty, and genuinely can't pay more than £20 a month (10 gas £10 elec)..

If I have been helpful in any way, please tip my scales :lol:

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My reply:


Dear Ms. Sands,


firstly, I cannot telephone you to discuss this as I suffer with severe anxiety and using the phone causes me a great deal of distress. I will continue to deal with you in writing.


At the moment we are currently paying off water arrears and have a court order applied. Regarding the credit payment of £127, that is 12 seperate creditors - who are all payed £10.55 a month.


I would also like to advise you that if you were to take us to court, a judge is likely to rule that you would get a lot less than £10 a month from us. This is more than we can afford and as I have been paying it monthly PER ACCOUNT (£10 gas and £10 electricity) I will continue to pay it and I will not be paying anymore than this.


We downsized due to our financial circumstances to a home with oil central heating and we are no longer using british gas. We have to keep to the rules of the tenancy agreement which say that we cannot change energy supplier, and our new electricity bills are £33 a month and will not change.


Like I have advised you, we will continue to pay £10 a month for the gas and £10 a month for the electricity.


With regards to our credit rating, that is not a priority - we just want to try and clear our debts and have enough money to live on.


I await your correspondence.


Yours sincerely,

Edited by silverfox1961
Removed your name from the bottom of letter

If I have been helpful in any way, please tip my scales :lol:

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Have you considered looking at a Debt Relief Order?


If you have debts under £15000, assets under £300 and a disposable income of £50 or under, you may qualify for a DRO which would write-off the balances in a way similar to Bankruptcy, however the cost is £90 compared to £500 for bankruptcy, and this can be paid in instalments.


I'd urge you to look at http://www.cccs.co.uk for further info on this, there's a section called Debt Remedy, it takes about 20 minutes to do the questionnaire and offers some really good advice.


This way you wouldnt need to struggle repaying the credit debts and water arrears etc

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Might be worth re-considering if you're under this pressure and will be paying off various debts for years to come, as you said, your credit rating isn't a priority.


I'm pretty certain BG won't accept the payment arrangement due to the amount of time it will take to re-pay, their response to you seems like a nice way of saying thanks for the offer, but it isn't enough. By looking at a formal type of insolvency, you can "draw a line in the sand" and have a fresh start, I've been through a DRO and it's been a massive weight lifted off my mind

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