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Shell Energy - Failure to disclose data

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Shell Energy received a SAR on 5th May 2021. It was responded to within the statutory deadline with our correspondence and all the information I have given them. However unlike previous reponses from energy companies they failed entirely to provide any information at all regarding the readings used to bill my account save the information I have provided.


I pointed this out and they responded by saying they have not witheld any data as they have provided me with electronic bills. They then proceeded to provide me with a copy of the bills they have sent.


I responded indicating I am not requesing a copy of my bills but a detailed breakdown of the meter readings used to bill my account, when they were received as well as updated or amended.


I am of the opinion their failure to provide this information is a breach of their statutory duty under GDPR and am prepared to sue them in court.


A letter before claim has been sent with a 14 day deadline.


It is noteworthy when challenged they are careful not to deny holding the data I have requested.

Edited by Intrepid
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The reasons I have requested the information is I believe it will clearly show that Shell Energy changed back the readings I supplied to the knowingly incorrect industry estimated readings.

This resulted in Shell Energy sending monthly bills for hundreds of pounds and I was forced to cancel the direct debit after they increased it by 519% in an attempt to clear a knowingly incorrect account balance.


I also note having further reviewed their data disclose that they conveniently left out the correspondence where they notified me of the direct debit increase.

Shell Energy - SAR Incomplete LBA Redacted.pdf

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£600, this will allow me to enforce the High Court Baliffs if necessary, I will indicate the distress is significant as rather than a simple oversight it appears to be a concealment of significant data that indicates the incorrect handling of my account.

If it can be established they have failed to perform to the standards of the contract between us as a result of mismanaging the account, I will consider they are in breach of contract and this will help me resolve the dispute in its entirety.


In answer to your question regarding other missing correspondence, yes.


There is a failure to disclose several automated e-mails as well a proportion of correspondence regarding the Ombudsman complaint upheld against them.

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The complaint upheld by the Ombudsman was regarding a separate issue where Shell Energy failed to switch the account correctly using incorrect readings. This has been rectified.

Following that complaint Shell Energy continued to bill the account using knowingly incorrect estimates, which had they applied the readings I provided would have prevented the issue from ever occuring.

The billing of the account has been adjusted following a reading taken by an engineer.

However Shell Energy have failed to remove the increased standing charges as a result of having to cancel their direct debit and I am preparing for the fact they will refuse to do so.

With all this in mind, I would post this as a separate issue as right now I am focused on their incomplete disclose.

Edited by Intrepid
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  • 2 weeks later...

Particulars of claim:


1.As a Shell Energy Retail customer I have an account with the defendant’s reference number xxxxxx [redacted].


2.On 5th May 2021 a Subject Access Request was submitted to the defendant pursuant to the Data Protection Act 2018. The defendant made a partial disclose of data, which upon review it was clear several items of data are missing from the disclose.  incomplete.


3.By failing to make a full disclosure as per the Subject Access Request the defendant has breached their statutory duty and continues to do so. The defendant’s breach of their statutory duty and my inability to access my personal data in full has caused me serious issues and distress.


4.The claimant seeks damages for distress £200.

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Thanks for the edit, very useful. From memory although it's been a long time the MCOL text window undoes all of the useful formatting designed to improve legibility and shrinks it into one paragraph.

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The issue is by not disclosing important data regarding their full and complete record of meter readings as well as communication regarding the running of my account that they are effectively withholding information that establishes they mismanaged the account. Their mismanagement of the account has resulted in additional charges which have yet to be removed and will increase over time.

They have failed to disclose data concerning their communication seeking an increased DD payment as well as communication received from the "debt collections" department.

This could be a coincidence but imo there is a pattern forming of data missing from the disclosure regarding important mistakes in handling the account. Namely how and when the readings for the account were changed by them as well as the action they took to recover a knowingly incorrect account balance.

They refuse to deny holding the data when specifically challenged.

Either they do have the data and are failing to disclose it or they have failed to keep accurate records concerning the account.


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In addition to the points above by failing to make a full disclosure, which I can evidence, this leaves me concerned for what other data may have been either knowingly or unknowingly witheld with regards to the running of my account.

I agree I am in no way making a claim for the mismangement of my account and solely for the distress caused as a result of their failure to make a full disclosure.


Thank you for the edit of the particulars, I understand the reasoning.


With regards to the quantum for distress I understand your logic, however it is clear from the communication received that their final position is likely to be they have made a full disclosure and is how they will defend the claim in addition to your comments regarding quantum.


If the amount claimed is very small I anticipate they will either credit the account with the amount claimed or offer to settle but without disclosing any further information. I will of course refuse and the case will ultimately proceed to court.

The claim will be brought for a quantum for distress, as this will likely proceed to small claims and no claim is being brought in order to compel an action thus it will not be a claim made under part 8. I will be in exactly the same position as if we were to settle.

Even if I am successful in quantum for distress this is unlikely to result in the disclosure of the data which as you made clear is far more valuable.

If they wish to settle without disclosing the missing data then imo it should be for a substantially larger amount. However they can defend the claim and lose, while still not providing the data.

Edited by Intrepid
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I sent a SAR to the Energy Ombudsman to provide me with all my personal data concerning their dealings with Shell Energy.


They have responded to the SAR in a similar fashion to Shell Energy, providing me only with correspondence and data I have provided to them.


As well as requesting all my personal data I requested a copy of all correspondence between the Energy Ombudsman and Shell Energy.


The Energy Ombudsman has failed to provide this as well as any data regarding any case notes with regards to their case handling.


I believe I am entitled to a copy of such information as it indicates how my personal data has been processed.


I believe the disclosure is incomplete and am prepared to bring a claim if there is sufficient cause.


In their response to the SAR the Energy Ombudsman states "they may have removed some information to comply with the protection of personal data relating to other parties". I suspect this will be their defence for not having provided the information I have requested.

Edited by Intrepid
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Thank you for the reply

Shell Energy have failed to formally respond to the LBC except in response to some pointless e-mail tennis. The claim will be brought on Monday.

Shell Energy have failed to provide any record of when I entered meter readings into their online capture system. Most likely because this record would show they changed the reading back to a grossly inaccurate figure.

Either they do not keep a record and therefore cannot know when they have received readings or be able to know whether they have received readings, or they do keep such a record and have failed to disclose it.

I suspect the latter as previous disclosures from other energy companies have provided such a record. This is evidence I was considering introducing at a later stage.

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Claim issued 24th August as edited for £100.


Some further pointless e-mail tennis with customer service, who by this point may simply be acting as a wind up merchant.

They offered taking the complaint to the ICO, to which they were informed the complaint had been registered with the ICO 3 weeks ago and they had already been informed as such on the date of submission.


They refer me to their customer complaint handling document.


I am unclear whether customer service is routing their reponses via the legal team as the rep boldly stated the disclosure was made in full, but I doubt it will be their signature appearing on any witness statement.


It appears they want to play some sort of game where I am forced to repeatedly request the information I think is missing from the disclosure, I am considering how this may affect my case going forward however it is also not for me to have to unravel the disclosure out of them like the layers of an onion.

Edited by Intrepid
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They have undoubtedly not made a full disclosure by failing to provid copies of the correspondence where they increased the direct debit on the account, as well as two communications sent by their debt collections team.


There is a reference to these communications as "tasks" but no copy of the correspondence itself.


Imo I have also made clear they have failed to provide a full disclosure of meter readings (including estimates) indicating in detail when they were received, applied to the account, changed or updated.


In the past I have received this information including the date and time from previous energy suppliers. I believe not having provided this information in detail fails to meet the standard of a full disclosure.


They will likely defend the above stating the information I have requested is provided in the bills I have received. However what is key to incorrect processing is the data they have used to generate the bills. I note from their disclosure that their internal system keeps a copy of invoices in an entirely different format which may well contain this information that they then use to produce bills, none of these internal invoices have been disclosed.


They have failed to disclose any of the automated responses to my complaints however this may or may not be regarded as trivial.


They also have failed to disclose any communcation they likely have had with the Ombudsman however this will be difficult to prove or get hold of, or they may argue their external correspondence (despite it being requested) does not constitute personal data.

Edited by Intrepid
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I have also been made aware that information officers use a strategy to prevent data being considered personal by referring to cases using different names or aliases in order to discuss matters without referring to the person concerned.


It could well be that when discussing the issues of running my account they have simply been reffered to as John Doe and thus would deny any information contained was in reference to my account.

Edited by Intrepid
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Thank you for your reply, I will not.


While they have been informed their disclosure of meter readings is incomplete they are completely unaware (unless they read this forum) as to the detail of the remaining data that has not been disclosed.


I do think in part I had a responsibility as per PAPLOC to attempt to resolve the conflict prior to issuing the claim by specifically indicating some of the data I believe to be missing. However as I did not receive an adequate response the claim has been issued and I can also now indicate in future that I did assisted them in some way with the incomplete disclosure.


This may give them an inflated sense of confidence to defend the claim. Ultimately I may lose and am prepared to lose based on judge lottery, however I wish to argue the case and if possible secure the judgement and full disclosure before continuing with further action.

Edited by Intrepid
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I agree, their response to my insistance of a full disclose of readings was to send me a copy of all the bills generated for the account.


This was completed well outside the 30 day statutory deadline, so the position is either the bills do not constitute a full disclosure and they are in breach, or the bills do satisfy the disclosure but were disclosed after the statutory deadline thus still constituting a statutory breach.


Notwithstanding all the other missing data listed above.

Edited by Intrepid
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An interesting development.


The Ombudsman has just completely reversed their ruling that Shell Energy were running my account correctly and have made a second award of £125.


I now have to consider whether to accept this decision and suspect if I do this will mean I have been restituted for the incorrect running of my account and will not be able to pursue a claim for incorrect processing of data.


Previously the Ombudsman had carried out a flawed investigation and made an incorrect decision that I rejected. As a result I was prepared to bring a claim for incorrect processing of data, or perhaps breach of contract against Shell Energy for the mismanagement of my account.


I predict that rejecting the revised decision in order to pursue a larger claim could be considered unreasonable and reduce my chances of success were I to bring a later claim.


I have not yet received a response either written or via MCOL from Shell Energy regarding their incomplete disclosure which was deemed issued on 24th August.

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No response has been received yet from Shell Energy regarding the claim issued on the 24th regarding the incomplete disclosure.

On the one hand rejecting the Ombudsman decision may be considered unreasonable to pursue further action. On the other hand the new decision handed down by the Energy Ombudsman is independent confirmation by an industry body that Shell Energy have grossly mishandled the processing of my data.

In addition the remedy proposed is one that clearly Shell Energy could have elected to carry out at any time during the complaints process which has been on going for over 5 months. Instead Shell Energy chose to dispute all the complaints I submitted and insist that they did not have to take any action as there was no remedy required by the Ombudsman.

Based on the above perhaps the  £125 award would have been sufficient had Shell Energy corrected the issue in a timely manner, however thier subsequent conduct leaves me minded to still bring a claim. Perhaps it would be best to asses this depending on their response to the claim I have already submitted.

The deadline to respond to the Ombudsman is 14 days, however I could request an extension, perhaps pending a response to the claim I have submitted.

I have attached the revised Ombudsman's decision (which they no doubt made to save face before the full face of their complaint mismanagement is reviewed by the IA). Prior warning it is lengthy and of significant substance.


Shell Energy - Ombudsman Reviewed Decision.pdf

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Having considered the issue further, the Ombudsman remedy does not address the fact additional standing charges have been applied to my account as a consequence of Shell Energy mishandling my data.


In addition the Omubudsman is likely unable or unwilling to remedy for the credit markers Shell Energy will have laid down on my credit file.


While I could begin the complaints process from the beginning regarding the above matters, I have no faith in Shell Energy's repsonse to any complaint given their previous conduct.


A substantial claim is likely to wake them up to perhaps correcting all the issues they have caused without the un-necessary farse of having them reject my complaints and disputing the energy ombudsman process thus extending the time taken to correct the problems they have caused me by weeks at a time.

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They have already corrected the bills so back billing will not take effect. However I am awaiting next months bill to see if they will apply the new AQ as they indicated they would.


That's a very interesting point you make regarding Shell Energy awaiting my response to the revised Ombudsman decision. I wonder if they are aware that it has been made, but am almost entirely convinced at this point that they act in unison with the Ombudsman and so would not be suprised if this was case.


It appears to me that some sort of silly game is played where companies get advanced notice of impending remedy action and therefore take the action prior to the decision in order to appear reasonable, I have experienced this before with the Energy Ombudsman and previous energy suppliers.


Thank you I am familiar with the Virgin case and follow it with interest.

All of the 18 complaints were brought against Shell Energy, 17 of them are simply a repeat of the same case in a few variations with additional detail regarding the inaccurate billing of my acount. The Energy Ombudsman refused to investigate any of them and simply closed them until I submitted a complaint to Ombudsman Services regarding their complaint handling and unsuprisingly they suddenly decided it was a complaint they could investigate. Ombudsman services offered me £75 to settle the matter regarding their poor levels of service which I declined.


The Ombudsman's mismanagement of my complaint has been referred to the IA for review. I was careful not to settle with the Ombudsman as I disagreed with their decision entirely.

Edited by Intrepid
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It is now becoming clear as I re-read the report that the Ombudsman has been in contact with Shell Energy regarding my complaint.


This is interesting as the Ombudsman failed to disclose in their response to the SAR I sent them any correspondence between themselves and Shell Energy.


I have sent the Ombudsman a letter before claim regarding their incomplete disclosure and submitted a complaint to the ICO regarding their response.

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I propose to claim for £100, however this is not much in addition to their offer to settle the mishandling of my complaint for £75.


At this point I will at least wait for the review of case handling by the IA.


A full disclosure was considerd very important following their flawed investigation and decision, however now that they have issued a new decision and seem to agree that Shell Energy inaccurately billed by account the value of the full disclosure may have been reduced somewhat.

EO - Incomplete Disclosure LBC Redacted.pdf

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Time is moving on and I would be grateful for any thoughts on planning the next steps.


The claim for incomplete disclosure was deemed issued 24th Aug. A 5 day grace period + 14 days as instructed on the claim form means a response must have been received no later than 12th Sep.


Shell Energy have gone very quiet and in anticipation of not receiving a response I am considering my next actions should they fail to respond to the claim.

1. Write a letter indicating as a gesture of good will that I am giving Shell Energy an additional 30 days to provide a complete disclosure following which a further claim will be issued. This will be in reference to the date set by the orginal SAR that requests data up until approximately mid July. (I am considering how much guidance I should provide regarding the missing data if I decide to issue such a letter, as so far they maintain their position that they have provided a full disclosure).




2. Issue a new SAR thus setting a new date for compliance that will encapsulate all the addtional data exchanged and received since the original request. I will also make it clear that I wish to receive any data regarding correspondence with the Ombudsman through their Case Management System or Direct Messaging System. This is likely to result in a similar incomplete disclosure that does not disclose in sufficient detail how the meter readings provided were processed to bill the account.


I will of course submit for default judgement if I do not receive a response and instruct baliffs as required should no payment be forthcoming.

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Shell Energy have re-affirmed their stance that a debt is owed on the account and debt collections procedures will continue.


While there is a debt outstanding on the account there are some notable points which I believe require review.


Within the incomplete disclosure there is data received that shows Shell Energy deliberately set a customers direct debit in order to charge a customer 128% of that estimated to be owed by contract completion. I.e. if Shell Energy estimate a customer will owe £1200 over 1 year they will set the direct debit to £112 per month to collect a total of £1344.


However it appears if the account falls at any time below the account balance during the contract then Shell Energy feel this is sufficient grounds to instruct their debt collectors.


I believe this perhaps indicates the contract terms are unfair. If Shell Energy feel it is appropriate to over bill customers by 28% surely the same degree of lattitude can be afforded to their customers.


In summary Shell Energy appear quite content to generate interest free loans from their customers however when it comes to equal an opposite treatment they delight in putting an account into collections and marking credit files etc etc.


Secondly our contract runs until January 2022, I am of the oppinion that there is no cause for action until the contract has been provided in full and have indicated that any agreed outstanding account balance will be cleared by contract completion. Launching into action prior to contract completion would be in my oppinion premature however they may be legally entitled.

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The Ombudsman has failed entirely to respond to the LBC they received.


Proposed particulars of claim:



1.As a user of the Energy Ombudsman service I have had several complaints reviewed using their service.


2.On 20th July 2021 a Subject Access Request was submitted to the defendant pursuant to the Data Protection Act 2018. The defendant made a partial disclose of data, which upon review it was incomplete.


3.By failing to make a full disclosure as per the Subject Access Request the defendant has breached their statutory duty and continues to do so. The defendant’s breach of their statutory duty and my inability to access my personal data in full has caused me distress.


4.The claimant seeks damages for distress £150.



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