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British Gas suddenly cut off gas supply and accused of tampering meter


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Thanks honeybee - I will certainly give the ombudsman a call on Monday. They are escalating matters at such a speed it's making it difficult to think.

 

We queried with the Revenue Protection officer how long it would be before they switched the pipes off and dig them up from the street. He said he didn't know and would let us know beforehand but im not sure I believe that. Can anyone shed some light on how long this process would usually take?

I guess if he hides behind "Gas safety" he can do almost anything...

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I think they could cap off the gas mains supply underground, if they believed an illegal connection might be attempted. I would think it would be a few hours work, but it depends on what is required i.e do they need council permission to dig up pavements.

 

This whole episode seems a bit odd to me. A takeaway business using gas supplies for 17 years without a long history of problems in having bills supplied . I know there is a language issue involved and energy companies are not brilliant at admin, but i am surprised that an accountant or other person has not thought it odd that a business using gas, is not incurring costs for using it.

 

Perhaps the business does not use a lot of gas and is mainly using electric which has been paid for ?

 

Have British Gas supplied any estimated bills on the likely gas usage ? Did they look at the gas equipment being used in the business, to see what the likely consumption would be ?

 

Even if British Gas can only bill for the last 6 years due to limitations act, the amount of money required to be paid, might well be much more than can be afforded. Difficult decisions might well then be needed, before it escalates to a county court claim for the amount owed.

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They talked about digging up pavements so maybe that is what they're doing.

I can't believe they jumped straight to "illegal reconnection" just because he saw someone on site when we were asking for an independent opinion.

 

Parents try to be very careful with energy use and the bills they have been paying goes into the accounts.

No ones ever mentioned anything to them.

Business is not amazing - just lets them tick by until retirement.

 

 

They do also have electric at the premises which I've now checked and is all fine (phew)

- but paying crazy prices so need to get them onto a better rate once I sort this mess out.

 

I have been give calculations by the RPO but I need to look at them in more detail as it's just a load of numbers and I don't know where he's getting the estimated usage from. He states it's based on gas appliances and opening hours.

 

Is there some kind of industry standard that he will be referencing to that I should know about?

 

Only the wok burners use gas but I think he may have grossly overestimated their usage. There are nights when the burners are only on for say 20 minutes as they've only done a few orders.

 

I'd like to think I can deal with sorting out the debt part, agreeing payment plans etc if I was dealing with normal British Gas and not being bulldozed by Revenue Protection who have clearly decided parents are criminals and their aim is to use the full force of their legal powers and justify actions by twisting events and employing intimidation tactics.

Edited by Emily1234
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They will calculate usage based on those wok burners being on for all of the opening hours. They won't know how much business the takeaway has done, as is not relevant to them. It was an unregistered connection with no measurement of usage.

 

You will need to go back through the accounts for the business looking at how many meals were sold and then work out a calculation based on how long the wok burners would have been in use. So if say 10 meals were sold per day on average and each meal took 5 minutes to cook, allowing for burners being on a bit longer, you might say that per 10 meals an hours worth of gas was used. Then find out how much gas a wok burner uses per hour hour. They are normally rated.

 

Whether you appreciate it or not, using energy while knowingly not paying for it, might be considered a criminal act. It is different if you have a contract with an energy company, as the supply is properly registered and you get billed for usage. If you can't pay due to a lack of funds, then the supply can get cut off, with a debt owing. But an unregistered supply is a different matter.

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They will not dig up the pavement as to dig up the pavement for non payment would require permission from the council. All they will do is cap the gas. IMHO they are lying to you hoping that you will pay up. To approach the Ombudsman you need a Final Response letter from the supplier. At this stage it appears that BGAS may not be the supplier for the unknown gas meter. Have you contacted your MP and asked them to get involved?

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Thanks Unclebulgaria I will look into the calculations. I now think years and years ago there used to be 2 separate addresses which over the years was turned into one with the post office. We now know there are definitely two separate supplies with only one registered with BG and the other one unregistered and unknown until all this started.

 

Now that this has all come to light we acknowledge that something needs to be paid. But I don't agree with revenue protection's stance that all responsibility lies with the consumer and the tactics they are using to put pressure on them to just pay the estimated amount they are demanding in full. Also is it BG who should be getting the payment or one of the companies that transport the gas??

 

There has been no meter tampering (and I don't think they have evidence of meter tampering even though that is what they have used to disconnect them). I think the difference between an unregistered and illegal supply is purely to do with intent. I honestly think this was originally connected up properly and something was missed at registration or a reconnection before our time (The unregistered meter has a year on it , next to the serial number, which predates my parents).

 

Surfer01 - I hope you are right. Our solicitor is getting in touch with BG on Monday for us and hopefully will be able to get them under control to have a sensible conversation before they escalate this even further. I will look into the MP route - what can they do in a situation like this?

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Think you will find that BG are the default supplier of gas in the area and legally entitled to collect monies for unregistered usage.

 

If you speak to Energy Ombudsman or other official energy consumer helpline i am sure they will confirm this.

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You'll find, with a simple google search, that BG do not need permission from the council.

Further more they can come onto.private property to replace /repair/remove/modify supplies. They do however, have to make good the ground and leave it in a similar condition.

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Think you will find that BG are the default supplier of gas in the area and legally entitled to collect monies for unregistered usage.

 

If you speak to Energy Ombudsman or other official energy consumer helpline i am sure they will confirm this.

 

BGAS are definitely not a default supplier for any area of the UK. All BGAS do is write up bills. They do not distribute gas in any form. Centrica is the default distributor. BGAS is ONLY a supplier that writes out bills. BGAS is a subsidiary of Centrica so in essence they do not even supply gas as that is done by Centrica so BGAS are taking it on themselves to make assumptions. BGAS as a subsidiary of Centrica has to be a totally separate entity otherwise it has an unfair advantage. If the meter is unregistered that is the fault of Centrica and not BGAS. If the meter had been registered to a supplier then the consumer would have had the opportunity to shop around for the best tariff and more than likely that would have been another supplier. I am fairly sure that they or any other supplier cannot back bill on an unregistered meter otherwise it is an unfair advantage for the supplier as it could have been any other supplier. Ultimately the only entity that may have a legitimate claim may be Centrica however they are a distribution company and not a supplier.

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What you are saying in effect, is that BG revenue protection are acting unlawfully in this case ?

 

Do you think that an employee of BG would carry out their job unlawfully ?

 

From what i have heard previously, mostly from consumers programmes, that energy companies were given certain rights and responsibilities by statute under the bills that Parliament passed to privatise gas and electric.

 

 

Going back before privatisation, you had British Gas and a number of different regional electricity suppliers.

When the then Tory Government privatised energy, they noted a default supplier that took on responsibility at the meter end of things.

 

 

This is why i believe British Gas may have some legal rights by statute to claim monies owed due to an unregistered supply.

The distributors of the gas don't get involved.

We could do with some help from you.

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Either way they are only a supplier, liars and nothing more.

BGAS have no right to claim any money on an unregistered meter as they were never the supplier or the distribution company for that meter.

 

 

Yes, BGAS would try and unlawful practice like they are doing as in the first instance

they have to give notice that the supply is going to be cut off

however as they were not the supplier they didn't so just walked in and cut it off.

 

 

Threatening that they are going to dig up the road is another lie.

BGAS are going to get caught up in this web that they have spun and it is going to come crashing down on them as they were not the lawful supplier for the unregistered meter.

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I think not.

You need to do son simple google searches

BGAS are a supplier and have never been a distribution company unless that has changed very recently. I know I am correct a I worked in the trade for long enough. If you think I am wrong please supply genuine links.

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BGAS are a supplier and have never been a distribution company unless that has changed very recently. I know I am correct a I worked in the trade for long enough. If you think I am wrong please supply genuine links.

 

Well for "someone" who has worked in the trade for Long enough you should know that BG dont need permission to dig up the road.

You have glazed over that misleading piece of info you stated.

So I doubt your entire statement.

As for external links or complete quotes, you need to re read the T&C

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BGAS are a supplier and have never been a distribution company unless that has changed very recently. I know I am correct a I worked in the trade for long enough. If you think I am wrong please supply genuine links.

 

My searches online just reveal that it is a legal minefield. I believe BG revenue protection officers are likely to know the legal position on the OP's parents business supply, better than an internet forum. We have not been to the business to inspect the meters. We don't know the supply history to the site. Perhaps this was a BG meter before the OP's parents bought the business, the previous owners had the supply disconnected and then illegally reconnected. For some reasons when trying to sort out the supply billing, it was never resolved.

 

I am unclear on the legal position and the OP's parents need to get this fully clarified. They should certainly not pay BG, until it is legally resolved.

We could do with some help from you.

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Well for "someone" who has worked in the trade for Long enough you should know that BG dont need permission to dig up the road.

You have glazed over that misleading piece of info you stated.

So I doubt your entire statement.

As for external links or complete quotes, you need to re read the T&C

Once again you are offering incorrect advice. They are a supplier and not a repair company or a distribution company so get your facts correct. The BGAS people you see working on the roads are another separate entity to BGAS the supplier and answer to Centrica. Anyway they need permission to dig up a road for a reason other than maintenance or repair work.

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Thanks everyone - it is a grey area at best.

 

Formal letter states -> Disconnection because of evidence of meter tampering. Gas Act 1986 2B Paragraph 10**. They probably (wrongly) suspected that we had somehow routed the gas from the registered meter illegally and made that gas flow through an illegal meter with nothing registering on the registered meter etc etc. We've not had any evidence from them of the supposed "meter tamper". But this was how they got their warrant.

 

When they came to seize the meter their claim is that they supply the entire address and this was a rouge meter. I've asked why its not shipperless and haven't really received an answer that I understand or makes sense to me. Something about the pipes outside already being registered/not registered? Both explanations have been told to me. I thought shipperless was simply a proper meter that had not been registered to a supplier.

 

I feel they are walking a line with the use of their powers. The prime example being the fact that they cut the domestic supply off because they saw a gas engineer on site and used that as an indication that we were trying to illegally get reconnected. When we asked why they were escalating this to the next stage so quickly when clearly we're trying to get it resolved, we didn't really get a straight answer. It makes me question whether Revenue Protection are fee earners for BG and they are under pressure to hit certain targets. But I guess if that was the case he's not really being very commercial about it. He must have just taken a major dislike to us. I don't know.

 

We're expecting diggers to turn up any minute now. It's crazy how much this has escalated in the space of two weeks. Thanks again for your thoughts though. All very useful.

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Ahhhh and you change your advice!!

Now its they need permission to dig up a road for a reason OTHER than maintenance or repair work!

 

1stly id say if I was the owner of a property I wouldn't be bothered who was digging up the road, just that they can

And

Maintenance..... They are maintaining, they are putting a cap to an unregistered meter.

Anyways their I no point arguing to the Nth degree, its off topic.

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When the children have stopped bickering the OP has to find out who their local MP is and attend the next MP's surgery.

 

Get the actions put on hold while they are reviewed and a formal plan put in place.

 

NOW..................................TODAY!!

 

H

42 years at the pointy end of the motor trade. :eek:

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Refering back to first post by OP

 

The meter which has been registered with British gas is actually for the residential part of the property.

 

British Gas already had been the supplier to the address concerned. This is a takeaway shop with a residential part to the rear. At some point, the gas supply has also been connected to the takeaway part, but the meter to the takeaway has never been checked as it was not registered.

 

I am surprised that BG revenue protection never picked this up previously. If a meter reader had been going to a mixed takeaway/residential property, did they not think it odd, that they were only reading usage in their residential part. I don't think you can have one meter for both business and residential usage.

 

It is a case of working out as accurately as possible the business gas usage over the last 6 years and calculating a bill. Then a payment arrangement should be negotiated. If it is just 2 wok burners cooking a small number of orders each day, then it should not be that much hopefully.

We could do with some help from you.

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I also wonder why it was not picked up previously.

 

I've got the financial accounts now for the last 6 years and have worked out a calculation based on what you suggested (sales/average meal price to get number of meals) and it is a fraction of what they are asking for. Still significant to parents but I feel a much fairer figure.

 

I had a look at BGs number and although I don't have the detailed calculations I think you are right that they have based it on the entire opening hours as if they were cooking continuously over the last 14 years (the period they want to bill us for).

 

I've called ombudsman and registered complaint but as someone's already said they can't do anything right now.

 

Solicitor looking through our info this morning hopefully.

 

Looked up our MP - next clinic is not until October. Will look into getting in touch with their office later on today once I hear back from the solicitor.

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but they have a meter to take readings from, the one they seized.

They may not know the true start reading but it cant be less than zero or more than the current reading so there are maximum and minimum amounts any bill can be.

That should be a point challenged when they say you owe £millions.

 

We still don't know what this meter supplied , whether it was just the shop because you said they cut off the domestic kitchen but havent explained the relationship between the premises and the meters fully.

 

being able to explain this will help you enormously when you speak to your lawyers so make sure you can pass over the necessary information without having to get it dragged out of you or your legal bill will go up and your battle with BG more protracted as their half truths will be harder to unpick

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Ask for written proof in the form of a print out from Metering Point Administration Services showing that the meter is registered to a supplier. It will also show when the meter was registered along with its profile and the address where the metering is located.

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Meter is defo unregistered - no record of it on the system.

It has a date on it which pre dates my parents but other than that nothing.

 

They say it's illegal because there's no record of the pipes with the local distribution network.

 

I found an entry on national grid which shows two supplies to the address

(one residential and one commercial).

Records in this industry is all a bit of a mess in my opinion

 

Still an ongoing saga.

Complaint has now been escalated to a Revenue Protection manager.

Husbands been dealing with him for me as I'm getting too stressed about it.

 

They recognise that my parents dont speak good English

(my father not understanding who they were and what they were doing was why they were refused access).

 

RPO officer admitted on the first phone call that he maybe should've offered translation services but are now saying that it was documented that he did and that he found my father very threatening.

 

At first I felt that they were very heavy handed , now I actually think they are liars.

The manager even asked "what reason would he have to lie".

 

Well maybe the fact that he's a fee earner for BG who carried out a flawed investigation to paint a one sided story about the bad Chinese man now needs to cover his backside?

 

They haven't really answered our queries adequately,

still haven't acknowledged that they have taken a domestic supply,

nor given us info on how they calculated their bill apart from

"they've used industry averages approved by regulator".

 

Incidently for those who were debating this previously:

 

- pipes were previously all owned by "national grid".

Now they've been carved up into geography and different distribution networks own them

(think there's about 5 - national grid/cadence still owns a big chunk.)

 

- the gas inside belongs to the "shipper" who isn't the company that bills you.

But British Gas does I think have a shipping arm.

 

- the gas ownership transfers to the billing company at the point of entering the meter.

After that point you and your gas company are responsible for the pipes etc.

 

In order to disconnect at the mains on the street BG have to apply to the local distribution network (the pipe owners) just like any other customer

(but they probably have a special relationship with them I suppose).

BG would have to pay a fee to disconnect at street

- which no doubt they'll try to pass back to us.

(Source : national grid website)

 

One of the reasons BG have said that the unregistered supply is "illegal" is because they couldn't find a record of two connections going to the address from the local gas distribution network.

 

I called the distribution network myself so can confirm that.

However, when I do a simple search on the national grid website

- it clearly shows two supplies for the address.

One residential and one commercial.

Haven't informed BG of this yet but will be in our next set of correspondence.

 

The industry feels like a bit of a joke to me.

Data and records seem to be a mess and I truly now feel that BG, this private company is abusing the legal powers they've been entrusted with in an attempt to maximise the fees they get.

 

I've been warned again that full disconnection is imminent.

 

We're not saying we won't pay a penny

but how is £ in full in relation to the last 13 years fair?

 

I believe some fault lies with BG not registering things correctly,

not picking this up earlier (when the meter man came for readings)

and the industry data as a whole being a mess.

 

Of course they believe my parents are criminals apart from

"of course you knew - we don't believe you didn't"

and

"the fact you didn't let us in when we asked shows that you know"

and

fabricated case notes from the RP officer they haven't given us any proper evidence that my parents have committed a criminal act.

 

Sorry just ranting now.

Waiting for an independent report to come back from our own gas expert and then will set out our final position with BG.

 

Hoping to get a deadlock letter to speed things up and that the ombudsman is actually impartial.

 

Going to contact MP office tomorrow.

I suspect we will have to let this all just play out since the RP officer started changing his account of what happened I've become quite outraged at the level of power these people have.

 

When it comes down to it they are essentially fee earners for a private company.

I really hope they don't work to monetary targets...

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