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comebackjimmy

Imminent Disconnection of Electricity by British Gas***Resolved***

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Hello All

 

In July 2018 my business moved onto a new site.  The site supplier of electricity was (and still is) British Gas.

 

I am about to be disconnected due to a high arrears.  The following is the sequence of events.

 

    1. June 2018 moved onto site

 

    2. July 2018 Landlords received electricity bill and passed on to us

 

    3. July 2018 We contacted BG and asked them to re-issue bill in our name.

 

    4. July 2018 They refused asking us why we needed to have it in our name!

 

    5. Following above I did nothing as my communication to them had been very specific, identifying our business and confirming we were the consumers of the energy.

 

    6. October 2018  BG finally issues bills in our name under a new account, on deemed rates.

 

    7. October 2018 - June 2019.  We did not pay any of them.

 

    8. May 2019  BG field agent visits and advises that disconnection proceedings are underway.  The account is being held by BG Warrants departments.

 

    9. May 2019.  Contact BG and agree 1 year contract payable by DD which started 16th May.   Spoke to warrants department who said they wanted bulk of arrears (around £25K) or disconnection would happen.  I stated I could not pay that in one lump sum but offered a repayment plan.  They refused to accept anything other than more or less the full arrears.

 

    10. End of June 2019.  BG takes DD payment for June bill.  It goes through.

 

    11. End of June 2019.  In absence of any agreement with BG warrants department we start weekly repayment by standing order of £250 per week, a sum we can manage for the moment.

 

    12. July 2019.  Try speaking to warrants department again.  I ask them why they have not submitted a disconnection application to magistrates.  They say they did to Bodmin Magistrates! (we are in Nottinghamshire!).   I said I had not received notification of such and they insisted we had received notification.  After protracted argument they concede they did not apply for warrant (BTW our meter is remotely operated and they can disconnect without attending site).   They then said we did not have a DD in place.  I insisted we did as they had taken a first payment by DD already.  Still insisting we did not have DD in place.   We could not reach any agreement so they said they would advise notice of disconnection

 

    13. July 2019 .  BG attempts to take DD payment for full arrears of £25K.   Fails due to lack of funds

 

    14. July 2019.  Write letter of Complaint to BG.

 

    15. August 2019.  DD is not tried again by BG as they do not take the current month when expected.  We pay it manually the following day.

 

    16. September 2019.  BG rejects letter, says account is with their Warrants department (that was my complaint and that they were not acting sensibly).

 

    17. We continue to pay our weekly arrears sum of £250 per week by Standing Order and our monthly current bills as they fall due as per their bills and stated date of required payment.

 

    18. Today (September 26th 2019).  BG warrants guy shows up.  Issues disconnection notice saying we will be disconnected 10th October.   I point out we are paying our bills on time and have a three month plus record of paying arrears having now paid over £3K towards arrears.  Guy says best thing to do is apply to magistrates for stay of disconnection.


I would be grateful for any advice as to my next actions.

 

I have been considering escalating my complaint to the Energy Ombudsman but as things have been stable in the last few months (I was paying regularly and not falling into arrears) it did not seem to be necessary because BG had not taken any further action until now.  I was content to be paying my bills and reducing the arrears.

 

The outcome I want is that I continue to pay monthly bills as they fall due and continue my arrears payments as they are until Spring next year then possibly increasing the sums.

 

BG are implacable, inept and probably some other “i” words if I could think of any.

 

The BG guy said we should apply to the magistrates.   He pointed out that people who did not have the same metre type as us had a ninety day disconnection process and BG were being aggressive in their approach due to being able to instantly switch off and this could be an argument to advance along with our recent payment history being good.

 

How do I approach the Magistrates Court?  I would think this may be a County Court Matter.  In order to get an injunction to stop the disconnection I would have to start a case against them.  What would be my case?

 

Any comments welcome and appreciated.


 

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If you were aware that you were liable for the electricity consumption at the property why did you not  simply pay the bill, or at least set the money aside to pay it when you had a bill in the correct name which was your only issue at the time.

 

It seems to me that you are the master of your own misfortune. 

 

Sorry to be so blunt but the name on the bill is a side issue. In the case of a business, a prepayment meter with a debt set on it is not an option. You will be disconnected unless you now pay as advised.

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Magistrates would deal with warrant for the disconnection, which is why you have been told to contact Magistrates.  Details may be on the disconnection notice.


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Thought I would update this thread as potentially there is useful information here that others can learn from:

 

I drafted a civil case against British Gas asking the Court to issue a ruling that BG not disconnect us on the following grounds:

 

1. We had entered into a new one year contract in May and they had taken a Direct Debit for the first bill, no other Direct Debits but I paid the remaining bills as they came in and fell due.  I argued that under this contract they had no grounds to disconnect as all bills had been paid in full and on time and we were not in default.   I argued that although arrears was built up that it was under the old contract which was different in that it was Deemed rates so could be argued to be a different contract.  The remedy for this arrears was not disconnection but to either reach agreement or take civil action of some sort.

 

2. I further argued that I had not been able to expire the Ombudsman's process.  The ombudsman advised that they would consider the case but could take eight weeks or more to process the complaint which could be found in my favour. My Ombudsman argument was that we were paying bills on time and addressing arrears and that British Gas were unreasonable in demanding a lump sum we could not afford.  As they would refuse to allow us to move to another supplier we could not mitigate the presumed Credit Risk they considered us to be and being in a monopoly position they needed to either allow us to move or accept our reasonable re-payments.

 

I put together all my evidence including a printout from my on-line BG account and submitted it to the Court.  The Court accepted the case and scheduled an expedited Hearing for the following day and required me to serve my bundle on BG by 4pm.

 

I found the legal department and managed to speak with someone there and finally got some sense.  For whatever reason they preferred not to go to Court the following day and I told them I neither wanted Court Action or to involve the Ombudsman but merely to pay the bills and the arrears.   It was agreed that they would withdraw the warrant if I would discontinue the case.

 

I downloaded and completed the Notice Of Discontinuance and forwarded it to the Court and BG and they in turn emailed me to cancel the warrant.

 

It was agreed we would continue to pay our bills and  arrears at the present rate and then up the re-payments somewhat next year.

 

From my point of view this was a win for both parties and common sense for them because they will get their money as I will stay in business.

 

I am grateful to the BG Solicitor who sorted this out for us.

 

Anyone in a similar position to me may find the above useful but I don't recommend getting into the situation in the first place if it can be avoided and it is not guaranteed that my arguments are legally sound or would work to prevent your own disconnection but in the absence of anything else they might be worth a try.   Whether or not the court would have found in my favour on either of the grounds I will never know.   It might well be that BG thought that it was wiser to work with us than thrash it out in the Court.

 

I would be interested to see what the opinion of other CAGers is as to my legal arguments and the BG reaction.  Other than that I thank the participants in this thread for their comments and now consider this thread closed.

 

 

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Well done jimmy and many thanks for the update.

 

Thread title amended.

 

Andy


We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

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