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zedraz

Electric company demanding £80,000 with statuatory demand!

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Hope someone can help me or guide me on the best way of tackling this.

I took over a running grocery business in Sept 2007 and we were shown/informed of our electric meter in the premises as there are 5 meters located in my building (which supply other businesses in the block). I noted the meter serial number and signed up for a new contract with EDF energy. I received a welcome letter and regular bills, etc.. as one would expect etc.. etc...

2 years after taking over (around July 2009), a company called "British Energy" contacted me informing me that I have not paid any bills and that they need to perform a change of tenancy. This took place and over 4 months I was constantly bombarded with backdated bills, totaling of around £80k!!! After querying why I hadn't received a bill all this time they replied it was billing error on their side. They are billing me out of contract rates for the whole period (backdated).

Then it struck me that the meter I was shown as mine was actually supplying another business. However the meter that British Energy refer to with MPAN _________ shows up as a “de-activated” meter when trying to enquire about this meter with any electricity supplier (I have proof of this). So I was stuck on out of contract rates but couldn't change to another supplier or tariff as the meter was inactive on the echoes system (central database of energy meters). Some one kind enough from Make It Cheaper.co.uk informed me of what is wrong and how that I should contact British Energy to resolve this asap.

After numerous attempts in trying to get this resolved and only after refusing to pay the any bills British Energy added my MPAN on the central database and was available for all suppliers to see and offer me alternative deals.

From what it looks like, it seems as though they removed my meter serial number off the ecoes database and kept me on a out of contract rate and now billed me altogether. I contacted them explaining that it is unfair for them to charge me out of contract rates due to a billing issue on their side & for having my meter inactive & for the delay in sending me any bills. This was discussed on the phone and they agreed to accept 70,000. Which I feel is nowhere near acceptable.

I contact The Energy Ombudsman who requested for a deadlock letter. So I sent another letter to British Gas for which I never got a reply. Now I get a letter hand delivered to my previous house stating that a statutory demand will be delivered next week.

Not sure how to deal with this, should I visit the premises to accept the statutory demand or contact The Energy Ombudsman? I moved out of the business in April 2010, the current electric supplier takes monthly reads and current bills are around £1000 a month as compared to £2500-£3000 British Energy were sending me. If I was on the current tariff my calculations make it out to be around £28,000.

Anyone please help.

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Hi Zed

 

Don't speak to them over the phone keep all correspondence in writing, send everything recorded.

 

What to do about the Statutory Demand? - I would get it set -aside as you've got a dispute.

I would seek advice from a solicitor, get a solicitor who is willing to carry out a fixed fee

agreement. This shouldn't cost the earth to handle.

 

http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/detail?itemId=1084611137&type=RESOURCES

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

'After querying why I hadn't received a bill all this time they replied it was billing error on their side'

 

I believe as it's their error they should only be asking for 12 months energy usage.

 

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Energy-giant-s-error-Bristol-shopkeeper-business/article-976372-detail/article.html

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'Then it struck me that the meter I was shown as mine was actually supplying another business'

 

Any payments made for that meter you want back.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'out of contract rates'

 

They've admitted it's there error so you shouldn't have to pay out of contract rates.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Are you sure that they are charging you from 2007?

 

I think you should send a SAR Request with £10 to all the energy companies. They will send you all the details they have in your name. I'm

sure it's applicable to businesses. That will provide you with relevant information. They have 40 days to respond.

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I thought an energy company could only back date one year when they are at fault and haven't billed you. Maybe someone else will confirm or not.

 

You definately need to get the Stat Demand set aside because you only have 30 days I believe from receipt to do this or pay up, after which time they can apply for Bankruptcy.

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I'm not too up on commercial dealings, however, the back billing policy (billing code) only applies to domestic customers, a b2b customer can be back billed for 6 years as per the Limitations Act.

 

With the errors that have been made, you are clearly not at fault and do have a very good case for your defence, though my experience is limited as to where to go further with this

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O.K. it doesn't apply to businesses, but it's their error, they didn't bring the matter to your attention until July 2009, they are taking advange of the situation.

 

The billing code

 

The code of Practice for Accurate bills (the Code) has been developed by the Energy Retail Association (ERA) with POwergen, British Gas, EDF Energy, nopwer and Scottish Power to address action raised in Ofgem's response to the Billing Super Complaint for domestic customers.

 

These companies all support the independantly-audited Code of Practice and are committed to the Code as a minimum standard of service for customers. The Code states that:

 

"From the 1st July 2006 where the supplier has been at fault in not billing a domestic customer the supplier will not send a bill which includes energy consumed more than 2 years previous to the bill being issued. From 1st July 2007 this period will reduce to 1 year" (Clause 3.5)

 

This Code is effective from 1 July 2006.

 

This policy does not apply to

  • Business customers
  • Customers paying on a prepayment meter (there is a seperate policy for PPM)
  • Customers obtaining energy illegally (e.g. interfering with their meter)

2.1 Energy Consumption

 

2.1.1 A bill has not been sent in two years

Where the supplier is at fault in not billing a customer in the previous two years, we will not bill a customer for more than two years worth of consumption unless it's in the customer's favour; the consumption relating to the oldest period (i.e. the period older than two years) will be withdrawn.

 

For the purpose of 2.1.1, the supplier is at fault where they have made no attempt to bill or communicate with an existing customer during the previous 24 months.

 

Specific exclusions

 

The supplier is not at fault where

  • A new customer has failed to notify the supplier that they are living in the property and we have sent letters to the address or we have continued communicating with the previous occupier
  • The property is newly built and the supplier is unaware of its usuage
  • The customer has deliberately taken steps to avoid a bill being sent

2.1.2 An inaccurate bill has been sent previously

Where the supplier is at fault in under-billing a customer by sending inaccurate bills, when issuing a corrected one, the supplier will not collect for any additional consumption (i.e. the shortfall between what was bills and what was used) that is more than two years old. This difference will be withdrawn if applicable.

 

Specific exclusions

 

The supplier is not at fault if

  • The energy billed previously was based on incorrect information and the correct information was not available to them at the time (e.g. technical specifications of the meter (such as number of dials))
  • For technical reasons, a bill issued previously has to be withdrawn and reissued

However, in these cases, the supplier will review each case individually and may apply a "poor service" adjustment to the account if it is appropriate.

 

For the purpose of 2.1.2, the supplier is not at fault if they can demonstrate that they have taken all of the following actions:

  • A. Read or attempted to read the meter at the premises within the last 24 months
  • B. Provided opportunities for the customer to submit their own meter reading at any time on any day; and
  • C. Any bills sent to the customer are clearly indicated as estimates (if applicable) and that these have been based on any previous history, or (if not available) on average consumption for a similar property.

2.2 Insufficient payments - Fixed direct debit and Regular cash payment

 

For customers who are paying on an agreed budget scheme, we will review their account at least once every 2 years to ensure that their payments are sufficient to cover their energy usuage. Where the supplier is at fault in failing to carry out such a review, we will not hold customers responsible for any deficit resulting from underpayments from any period older than 2 years (from the date when the account is next reviewed); the deficit resulting from the underpayment to the oldest period (i.e the period older than two years) will be cancelled.

 

Specific exclusions

 

Customers must have been paying the agreed installments; those that have missed payments or failed to pay the agreed amount will not be covered by this policy.

 

For the purpose of 2.2, the supplier is not at fault if we have carried out all the following actions in addition to A and B above:

  • D. The customer has been correctly set up on the suppliers billing system and they have been sending statements showing actual or estimated consumption.
  • E. The supplier has assessed the payment within the last 24 months based on actual or a reasonable estimate of the customer's energy consumption or the supplier has sent letters to the customer requestion a factual reading to enable them to reasses their payments.
  • F. For direct debit customers only, the payments have been set up correctly and the supplier is taking the pre-agreed payments.

3. Poor service

 

Where the supplier ar enot at fault, customers are not entitled to have any amount of their energy bill cancelled. Should the supplier believe compensation is required due to service issues, this will be considered seperately as poor service.

 

4. Staff training

 

The supplier should endeavour to follow this policy and staff will be trained appropriately. If an error in the application of this policy occurs, the supplier will correct this as soon as they become aware of it.

 

5. Compliance

 

This policy will be audited both internally and externally at agreed regular periods. Customers who are unhappy about the way their account has been dealt with can follow the suppliers complaints procedure. If this fails to remedy the complaint, the customer can refer the dispute to the Energy Supply Ombudsman.

 

In line with actions agreed with the ERA, suppliers will record, monitor amd report their performance against the Code.

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Thanks for the info everyone, I will be contacting the company who wants to visit me to serve the statutory demand to forward the date so that I can contact the energy Ombudsman and get them to contact British Energy to stop the statutory demand.

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Zedraz, if you have a lawyer you should speak to them to arrange having tha Stat Demand set aside. Simply speaking to the agent/company who are trying to serve the Demand won't usually change anything, they will still serve the Demand unless instructed not to.

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Hope someone can help me or guide me on the best way of tackling this.

I took over a running grocery business in Sept 2007 and we were shown/informed of our electric meter in the premises as there are 5 meters located in my building (which supply other businesses in the block). I noted the meter serial number and signed up for a new contract with EDF energy. I received a welcome letter and regular bills, etc.. as one would expect etc.. etc...

2 years after taking over (around July 2009), a company called "British Energy" contacted me informing me that I have not paid any bills and that they need to perform a change of tenancy. This took place and over 4 months I was constantly bombarded with backdated bills, totaling of around £80k!!!

 

This bit right at the start sounds very dodgy. It doesn't make sense. If you had a contract with EDF the only way out of most energy contracts is a change of tenancy. However you were in the property throughout and hence there hasn't been a change of tenancy from what you've said. British Energy sounds like a dodgy broker that's sold you a bad deal by implying they are British Energy plc. British Energy are an owner of Power Stations (and to confuse matters EDF Energy bought British Energy in January 2009)

 

You don't need s solicitor at this stage you need someone who knows how the energy industry works as it might be possible to reduce or even write off the bills.

 

If your MPAN was denenergised on ecoes then British Energy have no right to bill you for that period and neither does anyone else. There are lots of unanswered questions here BEFORE you go to a solicitor. Need to carefully track through the Actual Readings and Estimated Readings, change of contract rates on what dates, change of MPAN's and MSN's and all matching up with photo's of the meter actually at the premises taken before it's changed as part of the smart meter rollout.

 

Rebel11's post below with the billing code is irrelevant as it clearly states in the code that it isn't applicable to business customers.

 

The Energy Ombudsman will also be uninterested unless you qualify as a microbusiness, which given your energy usage is unlikely but how many employees do you have and what is Turnover and Balance Sheet total?

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Its all rather confusing but we performed a change of tenancy for the wrong meter. Basically I took on someone elses bill. However thats all sorted, EDF have rectified the problem and the correct owner is getting his bills.

 

With regards to British Gas, when they informed me that they had been supplying me with electricity and I was out of tariff. I rang around to get a good deal, contacted makeitcheaper.com and various other comparison site just to find the best deal and each time I gave my meter serial number and MPAN number they couldn't take over the meter as there were "No Meter Serials associated with this MPAN" Someone kindly send me a screenshot of this to prove it. Please see screenshot below this was taken from ecoes.co.uk

 

image001.jpg

 

All the bills I got from British Energy are all estimates. I dont have any reads either but the company supplying electricity now sends their bills every month and take monthly reads so could use them to get a rough idea on annual consumption.

 

am still waiting for a deadlock letter from British Energy so that I can proceed to the Energy ombudsman. We have 4 full time employees and 5 part time. Turnover between £1m-£2m. Big turnover but net profit is next to nothing!

image001.jpg

Edited by zedraz

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Do you have a web address / contact address for British Energy that you can post here? It seems very odd that you contracted directly with British Energy as they are a generating company now owned by EDF. On the estimated bills you are getting from BE what is the full registered address and company name/number on it? Try Googling "British Energy Direct Ltd".

 

If BGB say they supplied you BUT the MPAN and MSN weren't associated then BGB can't bill you for the meter for that period. It's also very rare that an energy company would call you to make you aware that they were supplying you.

 

You do get very dodgy third party brokers that will ring up companies that have just taken on new premises and intentionally mislead you into verbally agreeing to a supply contract. They'll use carefully selected wording to imply that they are something they are not e.g. National Meter Registrations, British Energy Consortium (disclaimer: these 2 company names are made up on the spot and are not intended to imply that these companies are in any way "dodgy" should they actually exist)

 

Based on your company size then you do at least qualify as a micro-business and you would need to make this clear at the start of your letter to the ombudsman.

 

If you want to send me copy invoices/correspondence with BGB/EDF/BE privately I can advise better (I'm not a lawyer or a broker, I just specialise in Overhead Management for companies for which as you can imagine Energy is a big part of overhead costs). I can calculate for you what you do owe British Energy and/or BGB and make a counter offer to the £70k (that offer may be £0).

 

At the moment I would suggest that the case history and the issue that you want OFGEM to resolve is not clear enough to put it in writing to OFGEM. You need to set if all out clearly, make a counter offer to their £70k before going to deadlock (I hate that term it sounds like a gameshow). i.e. you need to be writing a report that states the sequence of events in date order, what rates you were charged, the known consumption etc etc that comes logically to a conclusion of an amount owing (refund you or payment o BE) to resolve the matter.

 

The screenshot you put above is of such low quality that it's impossible to read anything.

Edited by MrOverheads

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[With regards to *British Gas, when they informed me that they had been supplying me] *BRITISH ENERGY

CORRECTION

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Address on the invoices from British Energy is:

BRITISH ENERGY DIRECT LIMITED, PO BOX 143, GLOUCESTER, GL4 7ZE

THE COMPANY IS PART OF EDF ENERGY

 

Registered Office: Barnett Way, Barnwood, Gloucester, GL4 3RS, VAT 523041202

 

British Energy are now are a part of EDF, however at the time of initial contact they were a seperate entity.

 

It was actually British Energy who supplied during that period. I have just had a meeting with their solicitor and their representative along with my solicitor. Total amount on statutory demand is £85,372,98. I worked out a rough idea, if I was on the current owners tarriff (agreed contract) then the total amount would be (£1200 per month x 30 months supply) = £36000.

 

I offered £35000 as a full and final settlement, taking into account the whole situation. After doing their calculations they turned around and said the best they can do is £45000 but acceptance would had to be made there and then and couldnt be taken away to be thought about.

I decided to reject the offer on the grounds that I dont I am at fault in anyway and dont see why I should be penalised for it. I dont have ownership of the business now

 

Their argument is that its my responsibility to make them aware that I took over the business, they say they were unaware of my occupation until 2 years afters after taking over.

 

I was informed of the wrong meter and did perform a change of tenancy but that particular meter wasn't supplying me electricity, reply to that was they got nothing to do with it.

 

With regards to the meter serial number being not linked to MPAN, well they say its not their responsibility? Its a thrid party company, someone who manages the meters data, (meter data collector) for they cannot be held responsibly for?

 

They say the contract that I was on during the period is a "deemed contract" which are generally around 30% higher than a fixed contract. I have a copy of the deemed contract if anyone would like to have a look or go???

 

Not sure what to do now, they will proceed with the Stat Demand, if theres anyone out there that specalises in the energy field and disputes please please help.

 

"If BGB say they supplied you BUT the MPAN and MSN weren't associated then BGB can't bill you for the meter for that period...." Can this be a ground to stand on? I mean is it a regulation?

 

Any help from anyone will be soo much appreciated :!:

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Not sure what to do now, they will proceed with the Stat Demand, if theres anyone out there that specalises in the energy field and disputes please please help.

 

Any help from anyone will be soo much appreciated :!:

 

Zedraz - I do this for a living more than happy to help. Please drop me a private message with your contact details and we can go from there. I'm out of the office in about 5 minutes until Monday morning, but we can chat on the phone on Monday. or you can get me on Twitter @MrOverheads

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