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Wrongly accused with GAS meter tampering by SSE

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Hi All,

 

Thank you in advance for reading my story.

 

Back in February we had the meter reading guy taking the reading.

 

For some reason he spent more than 10 min in the storage under the stairs.

 

He left and after 2h we got a revenue protection investigator knocking on our door.

 

He said a report has been received for meter tampering.

 

After checking the meter he confirmed that a plastic protective cover is missing and this allows for the meter to be fiddled with.

 

This was the first time that we were made aware of the issue and the investigator said it was not unusual with these type of old gas meters for the cover to get loose.

 

The gas meter was changed in a few hours and a few weeks later we received a demand to pay £1400 for change of gas meter and gas used but not recorded by the meter.

 

We had a couple of gas leaks when National Grid replaced the main gas pipes a year ago. We had many engineers coming and going trying to resolve the issue.

 

We have no idea when this protective cover has disappeared and what has happened.

 

We are being wrongly accused of tampering and the payment demands keep coming.

 

I am speaking to a manager from SSE to try and resolve the issue but not sure where this will lead to.

 

I have reading and bills from last 2 years and our gas consumption seems normal and in line with national average.

 

 

Can anyone advise what further action we can take as last letter is a Statutory Demand and threatening with bailiffs and Rights of Entry Warrant, as this is really distressing especially when we have not done anything wrong.

 

Thank you.

 

Nick

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In their last letter which you say is a statutory demand, does it explain the process for going to a court to raise an objection ? There must be a process where you can lodge an application with a court, to stop SSE from fitting a prepayment meter and forcing entry, while your account is subject to a complaint.

 

Have you contacted the energy ombudsman to see whether an urgent complaint can be made ? It might be worth phoning them.

 

You need to get on with this as a matter of urgency, as otherwise it can move quite quickly with them getting a warrant to force the meter change. They then include this £1400 debt on a prepayment meter.


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Wasnt there a similar thread to this recently ?

 

Anyway, yes there is a court date given where you can dispute the need to fit a meter, although if it relates to non/late payment an agreement can normally be arranged before and the court date cancelled (this happened to me).

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Interesting thing is that this happened beginning of February when were in process of switching suppliers trough uSwithch.

 

By mid February switch was completed to eOn and SSE are not our supplier anymore even tough they arranged for the meter to to changed.

 

Not sure how things stand as technically the meter is not theirs.

 

I read that you can contact the regulator once all goes to dead end and no resolution is possible.

 

Nothing in the letter to suggest what I can do....

 

I am waiting for a manager to call me back and offer a solutions as I escalated this a complain over the phone.

 

We have only used about 70 units - from the change of the meter till the switch completion.

 

Energy bill was about £20 for the period and paid off. Similar gas bill was expected.

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Talk to EON complaints team about your previous supplers interfering with your supply arrangement with EON. Your contract is with EON and if SSE think there was an issue while you were with them, that should be a separate issue. The meter that was taken out should be made available so you can have it independently inspected. I believe there have been mistakes made before with energy company inspections, where the tampering has proven not to be true.

 

EON may get involved anyway, as SSE might try to void the transfer, on the basis there was a debt due to meter tampering.

 

I don't think SSE can apply for a warrant to force entry, if you are not their customer.


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Have EON definitely taken on your gas supply? Have they sent a bill as of yet or taken payment? Would be a good starting point to check with EON. Also have you had a final bill from SSE?

 

If EON are the supplier then SSE cannot apply for a Warrant of Entry.

 

Try and get the email address of the manager you are speaking to - deal with this only in writing, as the paper trail will be vital if you end up going to court.

 

It would be a good idea to request a SAR from SSE so you can see wht they have on their systems.

 

Whilst a 'debt' is disputed and a complaint open there should not be any debt collection activity.

 

You mention a statutory demand being received. Are they looking at petitioning for your bankruptcy? You need to reply to this and defend.

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Spoke to the manager - Statutory notice has been sent by mistake and now is on hold.

 

This is just info that PAYG meter might be fitted in and payment is required NOW. No one will make me bankrupt ....

 

I had a bill from eOn and they are definitely my supplier now.

 

I got final bill for electricity from SSE and it was about £30. All paid.

 

This seems to be the final gas bill

 

Cost of metering and plant £127..

Labour - £87...

Gas used but not billed £1128..

Total 1344

 

I was assured 30min ago that case would be reviewed and I would get a call tomorrow....

 

I am prepared to go all the way and involve all relevant institution.

 

I will keep you posted....

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Hi Nacid, that's good to hear that you've got confirmation that the warrant will be cancelled and you've clarified you are no longer in their supply - they definitely cannot do anything in terms of fitting a prepayment meter.

 

Let us know how it goes when you hear from them tomorrow

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Hi

 

Please ensure you have it in writing or an email from SSE that confirmation (if by telephone did you record the call)

 

I would also inform SSE that you require to know the location of the meter as you may require an independent inspection to prove if the meter was either tampered with or just faulty meter due to its age also has SSE taken into account the Gas Leaks approx XX where National Grid replaced the main gas pipe.


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No call yesterday. No update yet. Will see what happens today.

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No luck with SSE and had to escalate this with the Energy ombudsman...

 

Reply below:

 

I have considered the information provided by both parties. This includes your complaint form. SSE has provided a file, which includes its review of your complaint.

 

Your complaint is summarised below.

 

You have explained that SSE has told you that your usage is exceptionally high.

 

SSE has confirmed that it has no record of it explaining that your usage is exceptionally high. 

 

Having reviewed your file, I can see that you had your electricity meter inspected by a revenue protection officer on 11 February 2016 on the suspicion of damage to your meter and/or supply. The meter was found to have been damaged which resulted in incorrect data being provided. The revenue protection department confirmed that the meter had been tampered with and that this had occurred on 8 August 2013 and therefore an assessment of the stolen charges had to be calculated from this date onwards. SSE’s reassessment for the electricity consumed for the period from 8 August 2013 to 11 February 2016 came to a total of £1,344.03, which was applied to your account. I also note that a new meter was fitted at your property on 11 February 2016.

 

It is important to clarify that any issues relating to potential meter tampering/damage is essentially a third party issue, which this service cannot comment on. You will have to raise this matter with the Police. I must confirm that SSE is entitled to pass on the cost of the stolen charges to you, as you are responsible for the meter concerned. In light of this, I am of the view that these charges have been correctly reassessed and will remain payable to SSE.

 

You have explained that the issue remains unresolved, and SSE has commenced collections action on your account.

 

I understand that SSE has commenced debt recovery action on your account. I am of the view that an energy supplier is able to take the actions it deems necessary to recover money it is owed for the cost of energy it has supplied. This is in line with the terms and conditions of the account.

 

You have also said you have researched the usage for a building similar to yours.

 

Please note that an individual’s consumption varies greatly, however, it is not something that I can comment on.

 

As mentioned above a consumer, you have a responsibility to pay for the energy you have used. However, I am aware that there is a large debit balance on the account and appreciate this is unlikely to be affordable in full. Therefore, SSE should offer you a payment plan taking into consideration your ability to pay to help you repay the balance. Please note that the terms of this payment plan are at the supplier’s discretion and will not form part of any remedies as this is a requirement of the supplier’s licencing conditions to offer this to you.

 

Ultimately, I am not of the opinion that SSE has made an error in the dealing of your account, and I am satisfied that the monies are owed to SSE.

 

Following the investigation, my decision is that no remedy or award is required of SSE.

 

Looks like I have to go to court or pay up.....It's really frustrating to have to pay for something I am not guilty of.

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Write to SSE saying that you do not accept the Ombudsmans decision and will continue to fight the matter. Ask for the meter taken out to be made available for independent inspection, as you do not believe it was either faulty or had been tampered with.

 

Your case as far as i understand it is that you paid an amount which was accurate for your level of usage ?

 

Why would they think it was tampered with in August 2013 ? Is that date relevant to any change ?


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Thank you.

 

We've always paid what was due and never did anything wrong. I got the whole house insulated in order to safe on bills and reduce cost...and having to pay 1300 is ridiculous.

 

Not sure how they came with this particular date. I was with SSE from July 2007 till February this year.

 

From what I read I think they can only backdate debt for 2 years. Not sure if this is the case and why this has not been spotted earlier by the meter reader....

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Thank you.

 

We've always paid what was due and never did anything wrong. I got the whole house insulated in order to safe on bills and reduce cost...and having to pay 1300 is ridiculous.

 

Not sure how they came with this particular date. I was with SSE from July 2007 till February this year.

 

From what I read I think they can only backdate debt for 2 years. Not sure if this is the case and why this has not been spotted earlier by the meter reader....

 

Ok. I think i would tackle this on several fronts.

 

1) Ask SSE in writing to make the meter taken out to be made available for independent inspection. If they say it has been scrapped or they can't find it, then you might be able to use this. Find out how much it would cost to pay for an independent report to be done. I have read of other people who have done this and obtained a report that disagreed with the first report obtained by an energy company.

 

2) When you look at your usage for the period in question, does it look right, for the size of house, number of people using energy and how energy efficient you are ? If you know people who live in similar size houses with similar usage, ask them for details of annual energy usage in KWH's ( not what they are paying), to see how it compares.

 

You need to get into written communications with SSE, so you can show evidence that you are continuing to get to the bottom of what has happened. If it ever gets to court, you then have more ammunition in your locker. If you have under paid for your supply, even if the meter was faulty due to no fault of yours, then you might be able to get the amount down to the 12 months back billing rules sum, rather than the 2 years because of alleged tampering.


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Thank you.

 

I will notify ombudsman that I am not happy with their decision as deadline is in a couple of days.

 

I will see what their response is going to be and will contact SSE by email as so far all has been by phone and no records are available.

 

Regards,

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No luck with SSE and had to escalate this with the Energy ombudsman...

 

Reply below:

 

I have considered the information provided by both parties. This includes your complaint form. SSE has provided a file, which includes its review of your complaint.

 

Your complaint is summarised below.

 

You have explained that SSE has told you that your usage is exceptionally high.

 

SSE has confirmed that it has no record of it explaining that your usage is exceptionally high. 

 

Having reviewed your file, I can see that you had your electricity meter inspected by a revenue protection officer on 11 February 2016 on the suspicion of damage to your meter and/or supply. The meter was found to have been damaged which resulted in incorrect data being provided. The revenue protection department confirmed that the meter had been tampered with and that this had occurred on 8 August 2013 and therefore an assessment of the stolen charges had to be calculated from this date onwards. SSE’s reassessment for the electricity consumed for the period from 8 August 2013 to 11 February 2016 came to a total of £1,344.03, which was applied to your account. I also note that a new meter was fitted at your property on 11 February 2016.

 

It is important to clarify that any issues relating to potential meter tampering/damage is essentially a third party issue, which this service cannot comment on. You will have to raise this matter with the Police. I must confirm that SSE is entitled to pass on the cost of the stolen charges to you, as you are responsible for the meter concerned. In light of this, I am of the view that these charges have been correctly reassessed and will remain payable to SSE.

 

You have explained that the issue remains unresolved, and SSE has commenced collections action on your account.

 

I understand that SSE has commenced debt recovery action on your account. I am of the view that an energy supplier is able to take the actions it deems necessary to recover money it is owed for the cost of energy it has supplied. This is in line with the terms and conditions of the account.

 

You have also said you have researched the usage for a building similar to yours.

 

Please note that an individual’s consumption varies greatly, however, it is not something that I can comment on.

 

As mentioned above a consumer, you have a responsibility to pay for the energy you have used. However, I am aware that there is a large debit balance on the account and appreciate this is unlikely to be affordable in full. Therefore, SSE should offer you a payment plan taking into consideration your ability to pay to help you repay the balance. Please note that the terms of this payment plan are at the supplier’s discretion and will not form part of any remedies as this is a requirement of the supplier’s licencing conditions to offer this to you.

 

Ultimately, I am not of the opinion that SSE has made an error in the dealing of your account, and I am satisfied that the monies are owed to SSE.

 

Following the investigation, my decision is that no remedy or award is required of SSE.

 

Looks like I have to go to court or pay up.....It's really frustrating to have to pay for something I am not guilty of.

 

 

Have you pasted this or written it out? Only reason i ask is, i get fed up with the ombudsman as its always geared on the side of the company. In that response to you, they say SSE’s reassessment for the electricity consumed for the period from 8 August 2013 to 11 February 2016.

 

Also they state that - Please note that an individual’s consumption varies greatly, however, it is not something that I can comment on. Well the company said you haven't paid XXXX amount. So how do they work it out if not based on similar consumption - Maybe i'm missing something here.

 

Im fairly sure that if we all suspect our meter has been tampered with, we would inform our suppliers, especially with GAS.... Makes it sound like you should have passed a gas safety course to identify that your meter was tampered with. We rely on this idiots coming to our house messing with meters as they are the professionals, however the defence we got in these instances is shockingly low.

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then report SSE to the police as the ombudsman says. They are responsible for their employees and agents activities. Cant see plod getting involved though but trying to recover the meter as evidnce will be interesting.

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I have just read this thread SSE are saying you nicked gas - yet the Ombudsman is referring to electricity doesn't sound like an investigation to me if they cant get the actual utility concerned correct!

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Your complaint about Southern Electric (Domestic)

 

Thank you for your patience while we considered your representations to the investigation.

 

While I acknowledge you are disappointed with the outcome of the review, I have not received any new evidence or identified a significant error that has a material effect on conclusions already drawn. Therefore, I cannot see any reason why I should change the remedy proposed.

 

 

 

In terms of next steps, please see below.

 

 

 

We have now reached the end of our investigation process and there is no opportunity to appeal. You now have to decide if you agree to accept our decision in full and final settlement of the dispute.

 

Following my review, our decision is that no remedy or award is required of Southern Electric (Domestic).

 

If you agree, I will contact Southern Electric (Domestic) and confirm that you accept this in full and final settlement of the complaint.

 

By accepting the decision, it does not prevent you from seeking redress through the courts, however, a court may take into account the fact that you have accepted our decision.

 

If you do not accept this decision, or fail to respond, the decision will not be binding on you, or Southern Electric (Domestic).

 

Please contact me using the details below to indicate your decision. You must confirm your response no later than 14 days from the date of this letter.

 

Yours sincerely

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My response..

 

Thank you for your email.

 

I am getting the feeling that the Ombudsman is heavily biased towards the energy suppliers and I cannot accept your decision.

 

....

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And I got the one from SSE this morning...

 

I refer to the Ombudsman Services: Energy Final Decision and the actions required on our part in response to

 

their letter dated 3 October 2016.

 

As you are aware, you rejected the Ombudsman’s Final Decision and there is no further action required by our

 

company in relation to your complaint. However, I would like to take this opportunity to confirm the status of

 

your account.

 

I can confirm your outstanding electricity balance is £1,348.68 which can be paid in full by calling our Finalled

 

Accounts team on 0345 072 4355. Alternatively, your payment options are as follows:

 

Over 24 months: 1 payment of £60.68 followed by 23 payments of £56.00

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It's all copy and paste and I don't think any investigation took place...

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What happened with this faulty/tampered meter ?

 

Is it available for inspection by an independent engineer ?

 

Unless you can evidence a mistake has been made and you never used this energy they allege, then i guess the next step if you did not pay, is that they take you to court to get a CCJ.

 

Have you got copies of all your previous energy usage statements showing how much you used and how much you paid ? If not, i would suggest you request copies, so you can evidence your history of usage and payment. Then if it goes to court, you can show that you have always paid for what you have used, the energy consumption has always been at a level expected for household needs and then there has been this faulty meter issue which you are not responsible for.


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The faulty meter was collected from the revenue protection officer and I have not asked for it to be inspected (this might be my next step). Not sure how they came with the date when the meter was tampered with - 8 August 2013.

 

I have 10 quarterly bills since FEB 2013 (1 missing) and I found one from 9/8/2012.

 

I have out all the data in xls file with a graph. All seems good with peaks in the winter.

 

As per SSE statement my annual consumption is 16673kwh at cost £917

 

Same bill states that average customer usage is 13500kwh per year

 

 

Not sure what to do next...

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