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British Gas debt taken over by Wescot

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Hello,

 

I once received good help and advise from CAG and now hope to help a friend.

 

For 18months he houses-shared with 3 others (4 in total). The bill is in his name and one other occupant.

Electricity and Gas was provided by British gas - Gas tariff was Standard and Electricity tariff was Economy 7.

This was the service that was already in place at the time of moving in.

 

Every quarter or so they received a bill (an estimation) and paid it by due date.

In Oct 2015 he advised British Gas that all occupants were moving and gave a forwarding address for the next bill

and also provided last readings after the move out date.

 

Shortly after a new bill was received by my friend at his new address outlining a bill for the entire period of occupancy (18months)

with a debt owing of just over £3000 and outlining account credit of just over £3000.

i.e. the bill outlines a total amount of almost £6500.

 

My friend contacted British gas to advise he was unable to pay upfront and needed instalments

and made a single smaller payment following this contact.

 

 

He waited for a new series of instalment bills to arrive, but instead a final and urgent reminder arrived of the total amount owing.

Due to being unable, he did not pay this.

He is unable to contact the other occupants to collect partial payment from them also to help.

 

This week he received a letter from Wescot ONLY in his name, requesting payment of the full amount.

 

After talking with him and doing a little research into the averages of household energy consumption,

we would really appreciate advise on 2 separate things if possible.

 

1. It seems very odd that a (admittedly large) house can have such a high energy consumption in 18months

- it is well above the average output of a large household (5bedroom house - 4 residents, regular visiting partners/friends as usual)

which we found to equate to approx £2000 (rounding up) per year (gas and electricity combined, standard tariffs).

By this standard, we generously estimate an appropriate figure would be around £3,500 for the 18 month period.

 

- can and how could we possibly contest the energy readings e.g. possibility of a faulty meter (exceptionally high readings) - given the amount of time that has passed.

 

- of note: no actual readings were taken throughout the 18months, all bill were estimations.

The final bill, if accurate is shockingly large, but is based on the final reading provided the British gas by my friend.

 

Does bristish gas have any responsibility around providing (assuming that the final reading was/is accurate)

in providing more accurate estimates throughout the year as there estimates were significantly under value, which has led to significant financial stress.

 

2. How should Wescot be dealt with? my friend cannot pay the bill upfront

- also, there is the issue of the debt being only in his name, despite BG bill being in the name of 2 house occupants,

and in actual fact 4 occupants being responsible for shared energy consumption.

 

Additionally, out of worry, my friend made payment yesterday directly to his BG account.

Will Wescot receive this as presumably the debt has been sold to them, or will it need to be chased for forwarding?

 

Any advice or further questions for additional information about the situation are very welcome.

Your help is greatly appreciated!

 

Thanks in advance.

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The debt won't have been sold to Wetcloths, or at least I strongly doubt it, not an amount as large as this anyway!

 

They can be ignored, deal directly with BG.

And in writing or email ONLY.

 

He needs to start BG's complaints procedure, and have them look at this bill again.


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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ignore wetcloths. totally

they have no powers whatsoever on a utils bill.

for a start.

 

 

you need the readings upon taking up the flat

and the readings when you left

 

 

dx


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Hi dx,

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

I am not sure of the possibility of obtaining readings from the move in date, however will investigate this with my friend.

 

 

From what i understand, he did not make a record or note of this when the group moved in.

 

I imagine that the reading can be requested from British Gas when a letter via the complaints procedure is submitted

- but presumably they will provide us with an estimate following the end of the previous occupancy?

And this is likely what was used when they generated this new replacement bill.

 

It may perhaps be possible to contact the landlord for such information, but don't feel too hopeful that he will have this.

 

He does have final readings however.

Final readings were provided to BG upon moving out and were used by BG to create the final bill posted to him

which they state 'replaces all bills' for the 18month period of occupancy.

 

 

The 18month period in which they outline are the correct dates of occupancy.

I am not sure if it is noteworthy that they house was unoccupied for a period before the group moved in.

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you demand from BG the opening readings.

£6k no way.!!


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Presumably there was a letting agency or landlord involved they may have the readings for when your friend moved in. We rent our house through a letting agency and when we moved in they use an inventory company to record the condition of the house and any meter readings, we were then handed a copy of this document as well as one being sent to the letting agency.

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Hi everyone,

 

Thanks for advice topcoat. We are looking in to it. Unfortunately our letting agency existed in terms of paperwork, but were not very involved; we dealt almost exclusively and directly with out landlord.

 

I would really appreciate it if someone could please give the ok or some constructive feedback about the letter i have drafted, below.

I am not sure if at this point it is worth mentioning that the other named person on the bill is uncontactable, or making any mention of it having been a share house or the number of occupants (4).

Is it best to write the letter as 'I' or 'We'?

Also, i have learnt the the house for which the bill relates is currently under construction due to a refurb. I am not sure if the meter is still intact or has been removed/replaced - perhaps (or rather likely) limiting the possibility for a meter inspection.

 

Thanks again everyone.

 

 

Dear British Gas,

 

I am writing today to express concerns for the outstanding amount outlined on my British Gas account.

On X Dec 2015, we received a bill to be considered as a 'replacement' for all previous bills for our occupancy period between XX March - XX October 2015 at XXX Avenue, NXX XXX.

This new 'replacement' bill outlines a total of £6,XXX.XX (inc. VAT) for the above stated period and states that £3XXX.XX remains outstanding to date. After receiving only estimates for the 18month period, I am sure that you can understand that this was not only unexpected news, but also stressful.

 

The total amount outlined in the bill appears to represent an unusually high amount of energy consumption for one household and as such we would please like to request a review of the entire billing period.

We would also please like request the meter readings from our bill start date to compare with the records that we are currently requesting from the letting agency at the time to ensure a correct match.

 

In addition, we would also please like to request an investigation of the meter at the above address to check for potential faults.

 

I would like to note that in December 2015 I contacted British Gas via telephone to advise that we would be unable to pay the bill in total by the due date due to financial difficulty and the surprising unexpected total. At this time I also requested that an instalment payment plan be set up. I was advised that I would soon hear back from British Gas however unfortunately I did not receive any notification by mail of such a payment plan. As such I did not make a payment by the outlined due date of XX December 2015 due to my uncertainty of the circumstances, for which I do apologise.

 

Following this, on XXth January we received notification by post from Wescot that they are seeking collection of the outstanding balance on behalf of British Gas. On this same date a payment was made via our British gas account to the amount of £XXX.XX.

 

 

I would greatly appreciate it if all requests for payment could please be suspended until a review and/or investigation of my account takes place.

 

I would further please like to request that all correspondence takes place in the form of writing only; either via post or email.

 

Thank you for your time and assistance in this matter. I very much hope to arrive at a resolution soon.

 

Sincerely,

XXX XXX

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Greetings I thought it was only the last 12 months that an utility supplier could back bill you!?


Andrew

ASI Industries = As i in does tries!

 

As i in does tries!: My definition.

I will try, i may never succeed in the goal, but at least by trying i have a greater chance of success than never trying at all!

 My opinions are my own & occasionally may offend, but it is not my intention to cause offence in the first place!

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Hi ASIIndustries.

 

We looked into it and you are absolutely right- it's called the back billing principle. As such, we made reference to it in the letter.

 

Thank you very much for the tip - I am sure it will be of tremendous help to the situation.

 

The complaint was sent yesterday.

In addition another letter was received yesterday from Wescot - it was a 'reminder' letter.

 

I will update with any response from BG.

 

Thanks again all.

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Wetcloths are desperate, file their puerile missive under ignore.


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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Hi all,

 

Just to give an update.

British gas quickly replied and nominated the 10th Feb as a date to come back and respond with further information regarding their review in to the account.

British gas has suspended any requests for payment while they undertake the review.

 

Two weeks have passed since the nominated date.

Would it be best advised to get in touch to follow up the matter, or to wait patiently and silently? BG policy states that if investigations aren't completed within 8 weeks, consumers can forward the complaint to the financial ombudsman service.

 

Thanks again.

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that's your next move

 

 

is it the FOS or is it ofgem?


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Just double checked and BG policy outlines FOS as the next step - only after 8 weeks of no resolution.

 

Sorry, I was a unclear in my last post; I will give a better time line.

 

Approx TWO weeks has passed since BG's proposed review date of 10th Feb.

And FOUR weeks will have passed since the complaint was formally received by BG, come Monday 29th Feb.

 

I.e. Eight weeks has not yet passed to allow the issue to be forwarded on to fos just yet.- 10th Feb was simply their expected date for resolution.

 

So following, we're unsure whether to follow up, or simply wait, as BG does still have approx 4 weeks to provide their resolution; irrespective of the 10th Feb date.

 

Apologies for the confusion.

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prob best to wait then.


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Sorry - Correction* it has been 4 weeks since their receipt of the complaint today (or possibly yesterday, dependent on business hours) - not come Monday.

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Received the below response from BG.

 

 

Dear XXX

 

You’ve recently been in touch and asked us to look into an important issue. Thanks for giving me the chance to resolve this for you. My name’s XXX and I've been asked to look into your complaint for you.

 

I’m sorry that we’ve given you cause to complain about our billing platform on this occasion and I’d like to assure you this is not the experience we expect our customers to receive. I’ll do all I can to ensure the matter is fully resolved to your satisfaction.

 

I’ve been through your bills and meter reads and I believe there’s been an error. There could be many reasons for this and in order to ensure the details we are billing you on are correct I’ve sent a letter to the current tenant to get some accurate and up to date information. The tenant hasn’t come back to me as of yet so I’m asking if you can help.

 

Can you provide the following details from XXX(property address) preferably by picture.

 

- Your meter serial numbers (MSN) or the MSN you believe to be yours – this is located on or around a barcode on the front of the meter and may be a mixture of letters and numbers

 

- The location of your meters – where are they? IE – in a communal area grouped with other meters, within your flat, etc

 

- Have you completed a burns test for each of your meters? This ideally requires two of you and is to determine the meter you’re looking at is definitely yours. To do this, one person will need to be in the flat ensuring all the gas/electricity appliances are turned on full for a minute or so and then switched completely off. The second person watches the meter to make sure it is consistent with the starting and stopping of the usage within the property

 

- The current meter readings

 

Please get in touch by 16 March 2016 on the details above, so we can progress this for you. Don’t worry if you’re unable to provide this information, just contact me so we can discuss our next steps.

 

I’m available Wednesday to Saturday 8am to 6pm.

 

If however, you don’t need us to help or you’re happy that this is now resolved, you don’t need to do anything and I’ll make the arrangements to close your complaint on 16 March 2016.

 

I look forward to hearing from you shortly and resolving this issue for you.

 

If you’d like information about our complaints handling procedure you can view a copy by either going online at britishgas.co.uk/energycomplaints, or by getting in touch and one of our advisors will arrange to send you a copy free of charge.

 

 

Kind regards,

Complaint Management Team

 

 

 

I imagine the reason they have not received a reply from current tenants as there are none. The house has recently been demolished and construction is taking place. I can provide BG with a photo of this, to evidence.

 

As such, not possible to obtain current meter readings.

To my knowledge no one ever completed a burns test while my friend was at the property.

The MSN in unknown. - unable to provide picture

Believe that the meter was attached to the side of the house. - unable to provide picture

 

It feels like this letter is implying that we should visit (or make contact with) the property to obtain the requested info? Instead of BG putting in the effort to do so. Slight annoyance around this, but it is beside the point.

 

There was a recent article in the metro titled 'millions landed with catch-up energy bills' (Feb 29th) - not sure if anyone saw it. There is obviously a lot of public frustration going around at the moment around this issue.

 

Any opinions on whether it would be useful to refer to this article in my response, or best to keep it simple and just highlight that the property has since been demolished and no photographic evidence can be provided to support there requests for information at this time.

 

Thanks all.

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id send them the photo of the site now

 

 

i'd expect they should know this as their meter reader should have reported it too?

 

 

dx


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BG never visited the property during the occupancy period.

And it would appear that they are yet to visit the property, as it would certainly be an obvious deduction if a meter reader had attempted to inspect the meter anytime since mid-mid late November (when the demolition began).

 

In the complaint letter, we asked BG to please provide evidence of a visit within the last five years (as per Ofgem requirement) to demonstrate 1. safe and proper functioning of the meter, 2. energy theft was not taking place 3. accurate meter readings, following 18months of only estimates. (and who knows how far back into the previous tenancies).

 

Will get a photo taken tomorrow.

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If the house has been (or is being) demolished then the meters would have been removed and the owners of the meters would probably have them, why not go and have words with the demolition company and find out who this would be, and then refer BG to them!!

Edited by topcat1802
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Is that really a possibility?? - or are we too gullible for easy solutions!

 

My friend knows the owner of the property well - All the tenants and landlord became friends over the occupancy period!

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Hello,

 

This is the most recent reply from BG following a reply whereby i provided photos of the demolished property site following their request for further information about the property, meter locations, current meter readings, meter serial number etc.

 

We are frustrated as information about tenancy has already been provided to BG (i.e. move in + move out dates) in this series of correspondence, however they seem to be making us run around to do all the work and to provide evidence of their requests.

 

As they have mentioned, 60days of the complaint being open will soon pass which will give us the right to go to the ombudsman.

 

We are not sure what is the best action - the only further information that we can provide to BG is to give the name of the real estate agency through which the property was leased. My friend feels reluctant to directly provide the name of the property owner.

 

British Gas have already confirmed that an error has taken place somewhere. All my friend wants is for the outstanding amount on his account to be voided for payment (approx £3000), he doesn't care to find out where or how the error occurred. He is not trying to seek refund of any of the already £3000 paid.

 

When BG mention in their reply "If however, you don’t need us to help or you’re happy this is now resolved, you don’t need to do anything and I’ll make the arrangements to close your complaint on 4 April 2016" - can we take this to mean that the outstanding account is resolved - or this is doubtful and simply their attempt to close the case in the absence of a time limited response and the account would then be passed back to a collection service again?

 

As always, any advice you may have for the next response to BG is greatly appreciated and is it worth passing this complaint via the ombudsman?

 

 

 

Dear XXXX,

 

You’ve recently been in touch and asked us to look into an important issue. We continue to send bills and request payment for energy use for a property that’s been demolished.

 

My name is XXX XXX, I work as part of the complaints management team here at British Gas. Your complaint has been assigned to me. Thanks for giving me the chance to resolve this for you.

 

I’m sorry we’ve given you cause to complain. I’ve tried to contact you on 19 March 2016 however this hasn’t been possible. As such I wanted to let you know what’s been done so far.

 

Thanks for providing pictures to confirm the property has been demolished. The meters remain the property of British Gas and we’ve no information whatsoever to confirm the meters have been removed.

 

I want to resolve this matter as quickly as possible for you. To do this we need some more information from you. Please confirm when the meters were removed, which organisation removed the meters and any meter readings which were obtained on removal. If you’re not responsible or not the owner of the property please confirm who is responsible for the property and when you ceased to be responsible.

 

Please get in touch by 4 April 2016 on the details above, so we can progress this further for you. Don’t worry if unable to do this please get in touch on the details above so we can discuss the next steps. Should you need to contact me my working hours are Wednesday to Saturday 8am to 6pm.

 

If however, you don’t need us to help or you’re happy this is now resolved, you don’t need to do anything and I’ll make the arrangements to close your complaint on 4 April 2016

 

I look forward to hearing from you shortly and resolving this issue for you.

 

On 29 March 2016 your complaint will have been open with us for 56 calendar days. Shortly after this you'll receive a letter from us advising you of your rights to refer the matter to the Ombudsman Services - Energy. Please be assured that we are working hard to resolve your complaint and remain committed to finding a solution as soon as possible.

 

If you’d like information about our complaints handling procedure you can view a copy by either going online at http://www.britishgas.co.uk/energycomplaints, or by getting in touch and one of our advisors will arrange to send you a copy free of charge.

 

Kind regards

XXX

Complaints Management Team

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Dear Bill & Ben,

 

Thank you for your standard template response received on ##/mm/yyyy, the contents of which have been noted.

 

As you have failed to resolve this complaint satisfactorily, or even looked into it, I will now escalate the matter to the Ombudsman.

 

Regards,


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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The builders doing the refurb/demolishing/rebuilding will have arranged for the meters to be removed. If its been demolished then the supply in the road should have been isolated so construction/demolishing could be undertaken safely.

 

As already pointed out, BG can only back bill for 12 months, if £3k has already been paid and final meter readings were given upon vacation, then BG should already have all they need to sort this out.

 

As time goes on, bearing in mind that no further gas is being used and back billing can only be done for 12 months, the longer this goes on without BG producing a final satisfactory bill can only be in your favour. once 12 months from you moving out is up, they are stuffed if you have no bill by then


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