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EON Utility Warrant, Portsmouth Magistrates Court, Deceptive Practices

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I have a corporate flat.  EON obtained a utility warrant by fraudulent means. They lied to the Portsmouth Magistrates Court.

 

 

The landlord was several months in arrears when I moved in.

 

10 months after I moved in, on 25 April 2019, EON sent me a Human Rights letter.  It stated they would go to Magistrates Court to ask for a utility warrant on 24 May 2019.  The nominated court was in Portsmouth, eventhough the flat is in London. 

 

I called EON on four occasions that day to say that I had no problem paying the bill. It was very hard getting through to someone who wasn't rude or accusatory.  The issue is that the bills they sent had the incorrect billing information.  I had told EON the correct information for 10 months, but they ignored me.

 

Collections agreed to update the billing information. I agreed to pay the outstanding amount on the letter they had sent me, approximately £800.  Payment posted to EON on 3 May 2019.

 

EON collections told me there would be no further court action.

 

I never heard anything from EON. I expected to get an update. 

 

On Friday 31 May 2019, someone knocked on my door, demanding entry. He said he had a warrant from the Court. I told him that I paid the bill. He said that he was going to return with a locksmith and change my meter. 

 

I called Portsmouth Magistrates Court. They said they could not help me unless I told them the date EON was granted the utility warrant. I told them I did not know for certain as they never told me anything.  Portsmouth checked the system and could not see a warrant issued for the date on the letter, 24 May 2019.  They told me to contact EON or the Ombudsman.

 

A few hours later, after I had stepped out, he returned and attempted to change the meter.  I do not know what he did exactly.

 

I then called Citizen's Advice Bureau. They have a specialist team for Energy complaints. The CAB specialist called EON who told her that unless I paid a further £400, that the guy would return for a third time that day and attempt to change the meter or cut off the electricity.  

 

I told the specialist that I disputed the extra charges, and wanted to see a breakdown of how they reached that figure.  The CAB specialist said that the EON contact told her all of the charges were only for electricity, an no call outs. She said that EON should have notified me of their plan to go to court anyway. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Please have a look at the thread which I have posted above. You will see the advice that I've given there about making sure that you attend court to object to any warrant. I'm afraid it's too late for you but you see what happens if you don't. You think you are having reasonable conversations with a reasonable company which listens to you and considers what you say – but I'm afraid that you are simply talking to a machine which has no interest in you.

I would advise you to pay the disputed some immediately and then go about claiming it back. If you don't then the meter may well be changed and getting it changed back will be a terrible uphill task – almost impossible.

I know that it's humiliating and you will feel indignant because you will believe that you are in the right – and you probably are – but believe me this energy company does not care. Mind you nought of the others.

Pay the disputed some to avoid further problem and then go about getting it back. We will help you.


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Hi BankFodder,

 

I was never told of the court date. I would have requested the hearing be moved to London.

 

They wrote the Human Rights letter, took my money and then went to court anyway without notifying me. 

 

Quote

 

Per the Magistrates Court on 6 June 2019:

 

Further to your recent email I can advise that there is no power for the court to immediately revoke any previous decision made. The court may be able to consider reviewing the issue of a the warrant at a further court hearing at which EON should attend or at least be notified and you should also attend or set out, in writing, full details of your grounds for seeking to have the order reviewed.

 

The court would need to have information clarifying

 

  1. The nature of your dispute with EON
  2. Why you say the Codes of Practice were not complied with
  3. Why you say the warrant was issued fraudulently
  4. Why you did not respond to the Human Rights letter by asking for a hearing at your local court which you could then attend.

 

Once the court has that information the matter can be further listed for hearing at which the court may either decide to withdraw the warrant or decide that it should stand.

 

I should however add that if the warrant has been executed then the court has no power to take the matter further, nor does the court have any power to order compensation against EON or impose further sanctions in any circumstances. If you wish to pursue those matters, and if EON does not deal with the complaint to your satisfaction, you should contact the Energy Ombudsman.

 

 

Quote

 

Per EON on 3 June 2019

 

We've been contacted by the Citizens Advice Bureau Extra Help Unit concerning an issue you've raised with them regarding your E.ON account.

 

This matter is now being fully investigated by the Directors Office Extra Help Unit team and you will receive a detailed response within 10 days from the date of this letter. 

 

A complaint has been lodged on your account in relation to this matter and you can view our complaint handling procedure on line at https://www.eonenergy.com/chp, if you prefer we can arrange for a paper copy to be sent to you free of charge. 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

E.ON Directors' Office

Extra Help Unit Team

 

 

October 2001Gas and Electricity Codes of Practice Guidance for Domestic Suppliers

4.8  Before installing a prepayment meter, companies must ensure that they are appropriate to a customer’s circumstances. Where customers move into premises which already have prepayment meter, companies should describe how they will establish the suitability of that method of payment for the customer.

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The CAB specialist told me to pay the outstanding balance to stop the electrician from returning the flat for a third time on the Friday.

 

I did a wire transfer via faster payments. 

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Okay. I think you have done the right thing. I have gathered from your original post that you knew that the application for the warrant would be made on a particular date.

I suggest that you send eon an SAR – although because you apparently have a corporate account, they may decline to comply – but you may as well give it a go. It's free.

Secondly, from what I understand it may be that it is your landlord's debt.  If this is correct then you need to establish that EON were fully informed that you had taken over the account on X X X date and that they must have known that they were entering the property of somebody who was not the account holder and changing the metre of somebody who was not in their debt.

Secondly it seems to me that you have a valid complaint against the landlord. Are you prepared to take the landlord on?

Do you know where the landlord is? Have you thought about supplying the landlord's details to EON?

Also, I think that is worth responding to the court and providing them with the details they require so that you can get a hearing listed to challenge EON. EON will be required to attend the hearing and also they should provide you with the copy of the file that they have and the information that they were relying on when they apply for the warrant. They will be obliged to make their disclosures in court. I can imagine that they will be reluctant to go to court and they may well try to contact you to get you to withdraw your application. I think you will have to play it by ear for a while until you understand the pattern of what is happening.

As a priority you need to get all information you can out of EON and your second priority is to get a hearing listed


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The landlord is not responsible for the bill or the fraudulently obtained Utility warrant.

 

EON lied to me.  They led me to believe they would not appear in court on 24 May 2019.

 

On the 24 May 2019, EON lied to the Magistrate and abused the UK's legal system:

  • EON told the Magistrate that I owed the full £1100 on 24 May 2019 when the actual balance was ~400. (EON told the CAB specialist that the £800 payment showed up in their system on 3 May 2019.) 
  • EON did not mention to the Magistrate that they had spoken to me and that I agreed to pay charges I believed I was responsible for - excluding their fines. (I received the letter dated 25 April 2019 on or around 29 April 2019, hence my four phone calls to them and initial payment of ~ £800.)
  • EON did not mention to the Magistrate that part of the bill was in dispute. Between 3 May 2019 and 24 May 2019, EON had an obligation to acknowledge my payment and make clear their reasons for continuing to going ahead with court action - despite the dispute.

After the phone calls and my payment, there was no further communication from EON.  Their unequivocally letter states, however,  that court action can be stopped by contacting them.  I contacted them, and they went to court anyway:
 

Quote

 

25 April 2019

 

We're going to court on 24 May 2019.

 

You owe use £1180 for the electricity you have used at ___.

 

On 24 May 2019 at 14:00 we will apply at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court Law Courts Winston Churchill Avenue Portsmouth PO1 2DQ to obtain a Warrant of Entry under the Right of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act1954 and the Electrcity Act 1989 (as amended).

 

You have the right to be in court while we are applying for the warrant.  If you'd like to attend please contact us and we'll arrange a hearing in a local Magistrates' Court. 

 

We will use the Warrant of Entry to install a prepayment meter, or if we're unable to do this safely we may disconnect your supply with or without your permission.

 

To stop this action you must pay your balance in full immediately or agree a way to pay with us.  If you don't contact us to pay this debt we'll charge you £60.00 to cover our Warrant application costs.  If we're granted the Warrant of Entry, we'll visit you within 28 days and we'll charge you an extra £90.00 to cover our costs. 

 

By contacting the court directly, before the hearing date, you can 

  • Obtain a map for the court
  • Arrange an interpreter
  • Confirm any disabled access needs
  • Obtain a list of solicitors

You may have to pay for any advice given by a solicitor.

 

To make your payment in full please call us on 0345 302 3766

 

Yours sincerely

 

Allan Machesney

Field Debt Solutions Manager

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Ofgem have a code of practice Gas and Electricity Codes of Practice Guidance for Domestic Suppliers (October 2001). See https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/sites/default/files/docs/2001/10/gas-and-electricity-codes-of-practice-guidance-for-domestic-suppliers-10-10_0.pdf

 

Per Ofgem, "Ofgem may require the licensee to give it additional information about the operation of the code, concerning the company’s internal debt policies and procedures, which will not form part of the published code of practice."

 

Highlights from Ofgem's code of practice:

  • Each code and statement should advise customers of the role of energywatch in providing free independent advice and dealing with complaints. They should provide the central telephone/minicom numbers and the addresses of energywatch offices for customers to contact if they have any queries or complaints about the codes or statements, or their implementation, which the licensee has been unable to resolve
  • Customers should receive a service that is consistent with all codes of practice and statements.
  • All representatives of the licensee (including third-party agents) dealing directly with customers must therefore be familiar with the content of the codes and statements and arrangements should be in place to ensure that appropriate training is provided.
  • Licensees should be able to demonstrate that the aims and requirements of the codes and statements are properly reflected in operational procedures and keep a record of the general operation of the arrangements set out in the standard licence conditions. Arrangements should be made to carry out effective internal monitoring to ensure compliance of staff or agents and highlight any deficiencies that need to be addressed. 
  • The code or statement should clearly state its objectives and purpose, as set out in the standard licence condition. It should provide customers with details of: the measures in place to enable customers to recognise and establish that visits are made by bona fide representatives, for bona fide purposes;
  • The code or statement should indicate that customers will be informed of any organisations likely to request access on the licensee’s behalf
  • When no appointment has been made, the representative of the licensee must tell the customer who s/he is and explain clearly at the start of the conversation the purpose of the visit.
  • The code or statement should set out the procedures for ensuring that the above requirements are met and the action that a customer should take if s/he wishes to complain about any failure by a representative to follow the correct procedure or meet the necessary requirements.
Edited by account-UK
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More per Ofgem. See https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/who-contact-if-its-difficult-paying-energy-bills/energy-supply-disconnection-and-prepayment-meter-rules

Quote

 

If you don't engage with your supplier on a debt and 28 days pass, they can contact you about the possibility of disconnecting your energy supply.

 

Your supplier must give you the chance to repay the money you owe through a payment plan before they disconnect you. The plan must factor in your financial circumstances and ability to pay.

 

Debts can be repaid over a number of months as you also continue to pay for your ongoing energy use.

 

It's rare that customers are disconnected. Usually your supplier will ask to fit a prepayment meter, also referred to as a 'key card' or 'token' meter, in your home. They work in a similar way to a pay-as-you-go phone.

 

You don't have to have one if you don't want one.

 

Ask your supplier about your options. Find out more in Understand your energy meter

 

If you don’t engage with your supplier to agree how to resolve the debt, or fail to stick to an agreed payment plan, they can also install a prepayment meter under a warrant to recover the money you owe. They can only do this as a last resort and must send you a notice telling you they’re applying to the court.

 

 

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Quote

Also per Ofgem,

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/consumers/household-gas-and-electricity-guide/who-contact-if-its-difficult-paying-energy-bills/energy-supply-disconnection-and-prepayment-meter-rules

 

If you think you shouldn't be disconnected, contact your supplier and tell them.

 

If you aren't happy with their response, follow their complaints process and make a complaint.

 

Remember, if you are threatened with disconnection it is important to act quickly and try and reach a financial arrangement that is acceptable to both you and your supplier.

 

 

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