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Spark Energy back-billing/bill 'correction'

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Shortly before Christmas I found that I had a huge credit balance with my energy supplier, Spark Energy



I contacted them for a refund of £1000

(which still left me with a fairly hefty credit balance,

but having been stung in the past I would rather be cautious about it at least until the summer months).


Their refund process takes a ludicrous 28 working days to complete, i am due to receive my refund some time next week.



I received an email yesterday advising that they have had to reduce the refund amount to £720

"due to some incorrect meter readings which have now been removed".



Checking my online account details, I can see that they have effectively credited every bill since March 2013

(all bar the first I had from them)

and issued one whopping bill for little under £3k!



All previous invoices have been completely removed so that I couldn't compare the new bill

with the previous ones and figure out what they have done.


I called them today and

after much confusion eventually was told that my account was reviewed as part of the refund process

and they noticed that there was a negative consumption of 409 units

(which they estimated to be around £400) dating back to Nov/Dec 2013.



I have lodged a complaint as the whole thing is very unclear

and I am currently waiting for a call back from a Manager.


I'm hoping someone can give me a bit of advice about where I stand with this and what my rights are.

Am I right in thinking that this would fall within the back-billing principle

and therefore since the error was beyond 12 months ago they cannot charge me?

And if that is not the case, what are my rights in terms of the info they must provide?



Surely they must be able to illustrate clearly the changes that have been made to my account?

Edited by katr
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your are 100% correct



they CANNOT do that



back billing applied.



go nail 'em



disgusting behaviour



they need reporting to OFGEN


please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Thanks for confirming my thoughts.


I received a call back and had to explain the whole thing again to a customer service manager who told me that the back-billing policy does not apply where a mistake has been made?!?! As it happened I had a copy of the code of practice open in front of me so could tell him he was talking tosh with some confidence; his response was that he would have to refer it to their billing department as they are the experts on this sort of thing.


Back to waiting!

Edited by katr
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trying to state he knew it didn't protect you

then backing down when you called his bluff!!







please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Well that's quite worrying - if the under charge was 409 kWh then they're charging £1 per kWh which is ludicrous.


In cases where a supplier makes a mistake, the billing code definitely applies.


If they received a meter reading which was out of line but didn't investigate it, then that is their issue. Only in instances where customers give false reads or deliberately avoid receiving a bill (such as not informing of a change of occupancy) then the billing code doesn't apply. It would be very interesting as to how this plays out. If I were you I weould also be asking for some compensation for the inconvenience, and for having to wait so long for a refund.


Make sure you deakl with them only in writing from now on - probably best to email the CEO; whilst it's unlikely he/she would even look at it the complaints do then tend to be dealt within a more serious manner

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Thanks both for the words of support; it's a comfort to have confirmation that I'm not talking nonsense!


Received the refund of the lower amount into my bank today but still waiting on further response re the back-billing issue. If I don't hear a positive outcome by the end of today then I will be writing a strongly worded complaint, which I will copy to the CEO per your advice.


Once I have a resolution I will be switching to a new supplier and reporting them to OFFGEN!

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Re the £/kWh, I can only assume (as I have no actual info to confirm) that they transposed a reading, which made it appear that we had used -409 units and that when the reading was corrected the actual no of units consumed for that period was a greater figure.

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my account has been reviewed by billing who, unsurprisingly, have deemed everything to be above board!


I do now have a little more info though;

it seems that I gave them a meter reading back on 09/12/13,

then at some time between that date and the end of December 2013

they received further figures from the meter reader.



I then gave them readings on 18th December 2014,

which highlighted (when the account was reviewed for refund) that the second set of readings they'd been given

were lower than my initial readings and therefore incorrect.



They are stating that this was picked up and the incorrect readings were removed from my account within the 12 month period;

however, I don't see how that can be right when it was only Tuesday that I received the email from them about it

and it was the same day they had credited and re-invoiced pretty much everything on my account.


I have asked them to provide a full written explanation of the changes they have made,

to include all of the facts and figures; although, it doesn't sound like they can do this

since they are suggesting all of the previous invoices and meter readings have been wiped from the system?!?


I'm very confused by the whole thing and don't understand how they can make such a mess of things,

nor how they can expect me to just accept what they have done without any clear explanation/figures!


I've told them that I will be making a formal complaint to OFFGEN and will be switching suppliers;

is there any benefit in waiting for this to be sorted before I jump ship or am I okay to switch immediately do you think?

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Sorry for the delay, been a little busy at work.


There's no reason for you not to switch suppliers sooner; they will still be able to rectify the issue provided they receive the correct closing read from your new supplier (ie make sure you give your new supplier a read to open your account with) Make sure you check an OFGEM approved price comparison site to get the best deal for you.


If I were in your position, I would ask them for a break down of all of the meter reads received, the date they were received and who provided them. I would also ask for a table showing what reads were used for billing and when; including all cancelled bills. They should be able to provide you with this quite easily.


They will have all of the meter reads, they have to keep them. Meter reads are received from the meter reader on what is called a data flow - they will most definitely have acccess to these - simply don't take no for an answer!


In terms of applying the billing code, the supplier has a duty to validate meter reads. It would therefore be really handy to see what the meter reads were that were used for billing on what date, and any other reads that were received on any dates inbetween. A supplier can invoice back one year from the date of the first correct bill, so for arguments sake if they corrected an issue today, they would be able to go back to 28/01/2014. Any extra charges for before that date would need to be removed.

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